Ombudsman to visit islands for first time next week

  • Jun. 6, 2007 6:00 p.m.

BC Ombudsman’s office is making what is probably its first trip ever to Haida Gwaii next week. Ombudsman Kim Carter and her staff will be in Masset all day Monday June 11 and in Queen Charlotte the morning of Tuesday June 12 to meet with islanders who think they may have been dealt with unfairly by provincial government ministries or agencies. Ms Carter said she will also be meeting with various authorities her office deals with such as municipalities, the school district, hospitals and provincial ministries. Ms Carter, who has been BC’s Ombudsman for just over a year, said she has been to the Charlottes before on vacation, and is very much looking forward to the two-day visit. She’ll be continuing on to Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat for the rest of the week. This tour will be the fourth she has undertaken in the past year, and it’s part of the effort her office is making to reach out to the public. Many people have heard of the ombudsman’s office, she said, but are not aware of what exactly it can do. The ombudsman’s office can help people who have complaints about the way they have been treated by provincial government ministries or public agencies. Groups which fall within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman include ICBC, BC Hydro, WCB, municipalities, regional districts, schools, school districts and provincial ministries. “It is a very, very broad jurisdiction,” Ms Carter said. “Our aim is to be there if people have exhausted all their options.” Ms Carter has been in the news recently with her special report into the BC Lottery Corporation’s prize payout process, which led to the dismissal last week of BCLC president Vic Poleschuk. But Ms Carter said she thought a report released by her office the week before that was even more interesting. That report was sparked by a complaint from a widow who had been receiving monthly payments under crime victim assistance legislation, which the government decided would no longer be adjusted to reflect increases in the cost of living. The investigation took three and a half years, but when the report was released last month, the government agreed to reinstate the cost of living adjustment. Ms Carter said the change affects almost 500 people in BC. People who think they have received unfair treatment should keep in mind that their complaint could help others in the same situation, she said. If you want to make an appointment to talk to the ombudsman’s staff while they are here, call 1-800-567-3247. You can also check out the ombudsman’s website at www.ombudsman.bc.ca

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