Issues with gov’t? Talk to the ombuds

Two mobile clinic sessions next week in Coquitlam

 

If you believe you’ve been treated unfairly by a local or provincial government body, the B.C.’s ombudsperson wants to hear from you.

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A mobile “clinic” is coming to Coquitlam next Monday and Tuesday to give Tri-City residents an opportunity to voice issues they have had with a public authority in B.C.

Jay Chalke, who has served as this province’s ombudsperson since May 2015, will also hold a community presentation Monday at the City Centre branch of Coquitlam Public Library (1169 Pinetree Way) between 4 and 5 p.m. 

“Our role is to conduct an investigation in to whether or not the public has been treated fairly,” he told The Tri-City News. “If we find that they have acted unfairly, we can recommend to them ways of making it right. We have a very high success rate.”

Common complaints can range from a student who has received unfair treatment from provincial student loan provider Student Aid BC to disputes over local bylaw enforcement. The files also deal with transparency issues in municipal government, Chalke said. 

Of the 8,000 service requests that go to the Office of the Ombudsperson each year, only 2,000 end up requiring an investigation, with the other 6,000 being resolved through existing appeal processes. 

In 2016/’17, 14 complaints were made against Tri-Cities municipalities: four in Port Moody, two in Belcarra, five in Coquitlam and three in Port Coquitlam.

A selection of relevant reports is published each year, giving other government organizations an opportunity to learn from some of their counterparts. 

For the most part, Chalke said government entities and public authorities are happy to receive the feedback and implement the recommendations. “Very often, we find the public body wants to [meet the recommendations],” he said, later adding: “We find the recommendation is extremely important and highly persuasive.”

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

@gmckennaTC

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