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

Dead woman found outdoors in downtown Abbotsford

45-year-old’s death not believed to be suspicious

Abbotsford-Mission economy to grow at second-fastest rate in Canada

Growth is expected to help push unemployment rates down and boost household incomes

After 10 years, inquest to be held into shooting death of Mission woman

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

Open house for Abbotsford road plan set for today

Public has chance to ask questions about draft plans for transportation and other city systems

VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: ECCW TLC Warfare

Highlights from Saturday’s wrestling show in Abbotsford

TRAFFIC ALERT: Mounties shut down Port Mann Bridge

A police incident has the bridge closed in both directions, but RCMP expect it to re-open soon.

See what’s up when you borrow a telescope from the library

Fraser Valley Regional Library’s telescope lending program takes off.

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

EDITORIAL: Speaking out for sexual identities

Both sides of SOGI debate for B.C. schools show signs of bravery, but not all are heroic

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

Most Read