Resource Guide for Family Caregivers
Ombudsman’s Office

The Ombudsman’s Office receives inquiries and complaints about the practices and services provided by public institutions. The Ombudsman can investigate a wide range of public agencies, including:

  • Provincial government ministries
  • Hospitals, regional and local health agencies, and health-related government agencies such as Medical Services Plan and Pharmacare
  • Self-regulating professions such as the Law Society, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia
  • Crown corporations such as ICBC, BC Ferries and BC Hydro
  • Government boards such as WCB and the BC Human Rights Commission
  • Schools and school districts
  • Universities and colleges
  • Municipal and regional governments

If you have a complaint about a decision made or action taken by one of these bodies, then you would take your concerns to the Ombudsman’s Office. The Office investigates three types of complaints:

1. A complaint that a decision:

  • is unjust or oppressive
  • discriminates against a person or group
  • is unreasonable or arbitrary
  • is based on wrong or irrelevant facts
  • is based on the wrong interpretation of the law

2. A complaint that an act is:

  • done for an improper purpose
  • done negligently
  • done without adequate reasons

3. A complaint that a decision or act is unreasonably delayed.

The Ombudsman can only make recommendations — the Office cannot make an institution accept a remedy or order. However, any recommendations made by the Ombudsman’s Office typically carries a lot of weight because the Office is seen as fair, thorough and impartial.

Many public bodies have developed their own internal complaint processes. This is a good thing, but it does not prevent you or the person you are caring for from going to the Ombudsman’s Office

if you still feel that you have been treated unfairly. The Ombudsman’s Office typically tries to help find reasonable solutions to complaints before starting a full investigation. Please note that the Office may also decide not to take on a complaint.

One example of how the Ombudsman’s Office may become involved is the closure of residential care facilities and the relocation of residents. While the Office cannot change the fact that health authorities make decisions about closing facilities, it can and will accept complaints from people who say they face being moved from residential care facilities without a fair process.