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Ombudsperson hears from groups in Chilliwack last week

B.C. Ombudsperson Kim Carter was in Chilliwack this week, hearing from the groups and agencies on a provincial tour. - JENNIFER FEINBERG/ PROGRESS
B.C. Ombudsperson Kim Carter was in Chilliwack this week, hearing from the groups and agencies on a provincial tour.
— image credit: JENNIFER FEINBERG/ PROGRESS

B.C. Ombudsperson Kim Carter Carter was in Chilliwack last week, meeting reps from government services, groups and agencies while staff met with members of the public.

She was on a province-wide tour of communities representing the Office of the B.C. Ombudsperson.

The office serves the entire province from Victoria offices.

"But because we serve the whole province, it's important that we go out, listen and talk to people," she said.

They effectively open the Ombudsperson's Office for a day in the communities they descend on, and they make two or three trips per year. Last week it was visits to Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Richmond and Surrey.

The Ombudsperson is known as "B.C.'s independent voice for fairness," investigating and reporting on everything from provincial ministries, to school districts, municipalities and regional districts.

And while Carter said she can't disclose the subject matter, precise concerns, or complaints she heard in Chilliwack last week, she can point to the annual report with a complete list of files opened.

"A number of cases are also summarized in the annual report," she explained to the Progress, but the identities of the complainants are not disclosed, to maintain confidentiality.

Sometimes the office issues a report on a single topic, like drinking water safety, lottery prize payouts, or seniors' care.

They issued a report on Open Meetings: Best Practices Guide for Local Governments last fall.

"It's the beginning of preventative ombudsmanship," she said. "It's an initiative rather than waiting for complaints to come in, it provides information and guidelines."

She said the idea is that it might reduce the number of complaints.

Anyone who may have missed an opportunity to speak with her or one of her staff, can still contact the Victoria office at 1-800-567-3247.

Check out the annual reports at http://www.ombudsman.bc.ca/resources-and-publications/annual-reports

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

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