B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke (B.C. government)

B.C. income assistance clients left on hold

Ombudsperson says some improvements being made

Disability and income assistance clients are getting better phone service than a year ago, but too many are still being left without answers to their problems, B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke says.

Chalke issued a report Tuesday listing some of the many complaints from people who either were kept on hold for an hour or more, or asked for a call-back and didn’t receive one. The complaints range from application s for assistance to lost payments to emergencies such as a woman who was living with her two children in a camper whose heater had broken down.

“The [social development] ministry’s telephone-based service has been chronically slow for a number of years,” Chalke said. “Income and disability assistance applicants and recipients include some of the most vulnerable people in the province.”

Chalke began investigating the problem in 2017, based on a series of contacts to his office from people frustrated with the lack of service. He said the ministry has agreed to changes, including posting its average wait times for phone and in-person service in ministry offices later this year.

Recommendations also include hiring additional employment and assistance workers to ensure 220 full-time staff are dedicated to answering calls to the centralized provincial phone line.

Chalke also recommends the ministry end its “call sweeping” strategy, which postpones action on requests that are expected to take more than five minutes to resolve.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Highway 3A reopened after mudslide cleared

A mudslide closed Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson just north of the Brilliant Dam on Wednesday.

Rossland couple caught in Kootenay Pass avalanche

“The snow was fast, you couldn’t outrun it.”

VIDEO: Rossland elders take second annual trip up Grey and Granite

That trip was organized by Ritchie Mann, who Greene “blamed” for the entire adventure.

Black Jack building a new trail at biathlon area

The Black Jack Ski Club will be building a new recreational trail at the Hanna Creek Biathlon Area.

Couple charged in Fruitvale incident plead not guilty

A couple charged in an incident that started in Fruitvale on Tuesday, April 3 pleaded not guilty.

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

VIDEO: Smokers talk pot rules at annual 4-20 event

Annual pot protest-meets-festival in Vancouver attracted hundreds to vendors, concert

New funds, recruits set to alleviate B.C. sheriff shortage

The Government of British Columbia announced new sheriff graduates, funding for more classes

Most Read