Ombudsperson takes 4 years to respond to complaint, says ‘no investigation’
BC’s Ombudsperson Kim Carter and her entourage were out in the Lower Mainland communities of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Richmond and Surrey last week, urging people to tell her and her “team” all about their complaints and concerns.
Kim Carter calls these sojourns into the British Columbia hinterland,“mobile intakes”.
At the end of the week, Ms. Carter took time to do a few media interviews. During these interviews, Kim Carter revealed that the most common complaints her Office receives about government agencies and other organizations her Office oversees are:
- “Unreasonable delay” by public agencies and organizations in responding to complaints, and
- “No good, clear explanation” for the concerns brought forth in complaints.
CBC-BC Radio morning show hosts in Vancouver and Victoria, Rick Cluff and Gregor Craigie, both asked Kim Carter about the recent appointment of a Seniors’ Advocate for British Columbia. The BC government decided to make the Seniors’ Advocate office part of the Ministry of Health, and stipulated that the Seniors’ Advocate would not investigate individual cases.
Kim Carter commented that since the new Seniors’ Advocate would not be permitted to investigate individual cases, “…there will still be a very active role for our Office (to take seniors’ care complaints) and we’ll be very much involved with seniors issues because we do have that power.” [interview starts at the 8:30 mark of the podcast]. In other words, her Office is the only place complaints about seniors’ health care in BC can be brought for investigation, once the complainant has exhausted the avenues available within the organization or agency alleged of wrong doing.
But “active” role is not what comes to many complainants’ minds when they think of BC’s Ombudsperson Office.
In fact, Seniors at Risk has learned that the BC’s Ombudsperson Office has a reputation far worse than many of the agencies it oversees, and particularly when it comes to:
- unreasonable delays
- no good, clear explanation
- failure to investigate cases
Here’s one of several examples of Ombudsperson Office neglect that has been brought to Seniors of Risk’s attention recently.
In August 2008, Rita McDonnell of Surrey, BC submitted a complaint to the Ombudsperson regarding the care received by her 68-year-old father, Gary Davis while in hospital.
She received a response from the Ombudsperson Office on December 21, 2012. Yes – more than four years later.
In the meantime, Gary Davis had died in a publicly funded long-term-care facility in July 2009 after developing severe bedsores and hospital-acquired infections from inadequate care that necessitated amputation of his legs, and enduring rough treatment by nursing staff.