Public concerns about COVID-19 services, policies highlight B.C. ombudsperson report
VICTORIA — Public concerns about government policies and services on COVID-19 are highlighted in the annual report released Friday by the office of British Columbia’s ombudsperson.
Of the more than 7,700 enquiries and complaints received by the independent office last year, 650 were related to COVID-19, ombudsperson Jay Chalke said in a statement.
The most common COVID-19-related complaints involved long-term care facilities and correctional centres, as well as concerns about government pandemic benefits.
“The pandemic meant that as an oversight office, our work took on an even greater urgency as new emergency powers gave government sweeping powers to do more with the stroke of a cabinet minister’s pen, while at the same time public services contracted as some services were reduced or eliminated,” Chalke said in the report.
The 2020-21 annual report indicates how widely the pandemic affected people receiving public services, he said.
The report lists some of the investigations handled by the office, including helping a woman expedite her essential visitor status at a long-term care facility to allow her to support and care for her husband. A health authority also reversed a policy established early in the pandemic that prevented lawyers from visiting patients who were involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act.
The office received the most complaints about the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.