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

Chilliwack native Maleek Irons scores first Canadian Football League touchdown

The former W.J. Mouat Hawks star recorded a major against Toronto on Saturday

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Heroism medal for Chilliwack woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Rifle thefts from Lindell Beach break-and-enter leads to arrest downtown Chilliwack

Andrew Scott Charpentier charged with numerous offences after guns seized from Reece Avenue address

Extended hours of operation at city hall for Chilliwack taxpayers

The Finance Department at city hall will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

Grey-haired bank robber hit with dye pack in Langley heist

Police are looking for an older man who may be stained with dye

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

New Lower Mainland bistro caters to board game fans and families

Local food and games at every table is the formula for the new business

Most Read