As an independent statutory office of the provincial legislature, the Office of the Ombudsperson impartially investigates complaints about administrative actions and decisions by more than 2,800 B.C. public authorities.
- The Ombudsperson is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor for a six-year term on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly.
- The Office of the Ombudsperson conducts thorough, impartial and independent investigations of complaints, seeks fair resolutions and makes recommendations to improve administrative practices.
- The Ombudsperson investigates complaints of unfair actions and decisions by provincial ministries, provincial boards, commissions, Crown corporations, local governments, health authorities, school boards, colleges, universities, self-regulating professions and pension boards of trustees.
- The Ombudsperson has the following powers:
- Undertake investigations of decisions and actions done, and procedures used, by an authority;
- Obtain information by:
- Entering and inspecting an authority's premises;
- Speaking in private with an employee of an authority;
- Requiring a person to provide information and documents that relate to an investigation, whether that person is a current or former employee of an authority;
- Summoning and examining under oath any person who may be able to give information relevant to an investigation;
- Receiving evidence the Ombudsperson considers appropriate to an investigation, whether or not it would be admissible in court.
- Conduct an investigation in private, unless the Ombudsperson thinks special circumstances warrant that public knowledge is essential to further the investigation;
- Issue a report with opinions respecting whether an action or decision by an authority was contrary to law, done for an improper purpose, negligent or otherwise wrong;
- Make recommendations respecting a remedy for a wrongful act or decision, including whether a decision should be cancelled or changed, an act be remedied, a practice or procedure be altered, or that any other steps be taken;
- Report to the authority respecting the investigation and request that the authority notify the Ombudsperson within a specified time regarding the actions that the authority has taken in response to the Ombudsperson's recommendations;
- Make a special report to the Legislative Assembly about a particular case that has been investigated if the Ombudsperson considers it to be in the public interest to make such a report.
- The Office can make findings of action/decision/recommendation.
- Ultimately, it is the Ombudsperson's decision to undertake an investigation and to determine the terms of reference for the review.
- Under section 10 of the Ombudsperson Act, the Legislative Assembly or any of its committees may at any time refer a matter to the Ombudsperson for investigation and report. Upon which, the Ombudsperson must investigate, so far as it is within his jurisdiction and subject to any special directions, and report back as he thinks fit.
- Decisions and recommendations made by the Ombudsperson are considered final and cannot be appealed, challenged or reviewed.
Previous Investigations by the Office of the Ombudsperson
In addition to responding to complaints, the Ombudsperson conducts a number of investigations each year, some of which are large-scale and complex. Some previous such investigations include:
- In 2014, Ombudsperson Kim Carter made four recommendations to the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation to meet its own legislated requirements to complete employment and assistance reconsideration decisions within specified time limits. Government accepted all of the recommendations.
- In 2012, Ombudsperson Kim Carter undertook a three-year investigation into the care of seniors in B.C. that resulted in 143 findings and 176 recommendations for the Ministry of Health and five regional health authorities.
- In 1998, Ombudsperson Darcie McCallum conducted a review of the B.C. Government's implementation of the Report of the Gove Inquiry into Child Protection, following the death of five-and-a-half-year-old Mathew Vaudreuil.
Ministry of Justice
Government Communications and Public Engagement