Open Collections

BC Sessional Papers


Item Metadata


JSON: bcsessional-1.0372116.json
JSON-LD: bcsessional-1.0372116-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcsessional-1.0372116-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcsessional-1.0372116-rdf.json
Turtle: bcsessional-1.0372116-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcsessional-1.0372116-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcsessional-1.0372116-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

 Legislative Assembly Office of the 8 BaJKouani
of British Columbia Ombudsman victonaM
V8W 1H9
Telephone: (604) 387-5855
Zenith 2221
May, 1981
s Honourable H. W. Schroeder
[leaker of the Legislative Assembly
Ifenent Buildings
Ifiia, British Columbia
3 Speaker:
|ave the honour and duty to submit to you my Annual Report to the Legislative Assembly in
Kordance with section 30(1) of the Ombudsman Act, R.S.B.C, 1979, c. 306. This^cond Annual
(port covers the period of January to December, 1980.
Respectfully yours,
~7 yn <L4Zl^a~~L^
Karl A. Friedmann
 British Columbia. Office of the Ombudsman.
Annual report of the Ombudsman to the Legislature of
British Columbia. —1st (1979)-
Cover title: 1979, Annual report of the British
Columbia Ombudsman.
ISSN 0226-8930 - Annual report of the Ombudsman to
the Legislature of British Columbia.
1. British Columbia. Office of the Ombudsman.
I. Title. II. Title: Annual report of the British
Columbia Ombudsman.
JL429.5.04B74 354'.711'0091
lights of 1980 Annual Report  7
I General Comments
m.   Administrative Justice  11
B.   Establishing the Ombudsman's Effectiveness  12
E.   Recurring problems in public administration  13
i).   Specific issues for the attention of the Legislative Assembly  15
Complaints: the Work of the Ombudsman Office in 1980   19
Comments on Ministaes and Complaint Summaries  25
JBhanges in Practices and Procedures 77
Ipalkback 81
iVI Tables
liTable 1 - Profile of Complaints and Complainants  85
Ipable 2 - Percentage of Complaints by Regional District 87
iTable 3 - Disposition of Complaints (Proclaimed Authorities)  88, 89
liTable 4 - Extent of Service —Unproclaimed Authorities 90
liable 5 - Extent of Service —Non-Jufisdictional Complaints 90
Iffable 6 - Reasons for Discontinuing Investigations 91
Eble 7 - Level of Impact —Jurisdictional 91
Ifeble 8 - Organization of the Ombudsman Office 92
|K;knowledgements  95
llhe Ombudsman Act 99
  Ins my second annual report but the first to
Isr a full year of operation from January to De-
siber 1980.
peived 3,840 new complaints in 1980 which
lesents a much larger volume of complaints
Ii had been expected. My assistants and I in-
ligated and closed 3,941 complaints in 1980
Iging the total since inception of the Ombuds-
|f Off ice in October 1979 to 4,197 closed
Ihard pressed staff received valuable assis-
lie from summer students, student interns and
Inteers who helped me cope with the large
I unexpected load of complaints. I requested
(Treasury Board approved an increase in staff
■jing the combined total to 34 staff members
I he two Ombudsman offices in Victoria and
Ijouver. Watch out Jack Webster: a new army
(Honourable Evan Wolfe, Provincial Secretary,
Iiessfully met the Ombudsman's difficult chal-
le to overcome the rigidity of bureaucratic
il; and remedied a long standing injustice suf-
id by a former public servant (Complaint Sum-
1/ 80-065).
imber of administrative practices and process were changed as a result of my investiga-
b: and recommendations. Information pro-
cd by authorities to their clients about
sication and appeal procedures was made
its readily available. (See Part IV).
Established good and efficient working relationship with the great majority of government au-
ffil|Ies- There are a few hold-outs, the Attorney
General, the Public Trustee and the Workers'
Compensation Board.
Games lawyers play: the "jurisdiction game"
played by a handful of lawyers in the Attorney
General's Civil Law Division. Aim: slow down the
Ombudsman. Have they never heard of "Justics!
delayed is justice denied"? For details move to
Part III: use the fast lane.
For the reader in a hurry: the "must read" complaint summaries: CS80-029, CS8O-036, CS80-
064, CS80-065, CS80-066, CS80M73, CS80-075,
I am bringing several specific concerns to the
Legislative Assembly's attention in which I have
not been able to achieve satisfactory results: see
"Age Discrimination in Social Assistance" (Part I)
and "The right to be heard—boundary extension
of the Village of Sayward" (Part III. Complaint
Summary CS80-064).
While the workload of the office is still very heavy,
present improvements allow me to take on additional authorities in the Schedule of Authorities to
the Ombudsman Act should the Government
and Legislative Assembly decide to proclaim additional sections of the Schedule. In terms of popular demand for proclamation, sections 4 to 7
might be next, although I have received many
recommendations for section 11 also.
    t; is a universally accepted value of most hu-
HSieties. Administrative justice is a recent vari-
|d addition to our norms; it focusses attention
|g,ver increasing interactions between the indi-
and government bureaucracy. Administrative
is no more and no less than our continuing
mor ways and means of ensuring justice for
^3n in his many and inevitable dealings with
Buthority. Justice and administrative justice
raortant. One political philosopher recently
Jsed that the measure of our cultural achieve-
oe the degree to which we offer protection
It arbitrary authority:
"No institutional order can be perfect, and
least of all, can it stay or seem perfect to
linose who must live under it. On that ac-
Wmunt there is always a need for protection)1:
Iga/nsf arbitrary authority, an arbitrariness
mmose specific content and definition':
Wfoange with changing historical circum-
mmnces. Essential to this protection is the
Wfissibilitv of effective criticism and complaint. Indeed, this possibility may be the
Bffisf criterion with which to judge human
■•nbudsman is one among several institutions
tped to get our society closer to the ideal of
Hstrative justice. The other foundation for the
j-asman idea is our democratic tradition. To-
■jWith other institutions of our democratic sys-
Iie Ombudsman works for the creation and
■nance of a political and bureaucratic environ-
Inat conforms to the democratic ideal and en-
Is our democratic political culture. Our "demo-
■Rision" was aptly described by Professor
Ii Riker:
WDemocracy is self-respect for everybody.
iVithin this simple phrase is all that is and
Kight to be the democra tic ideal. Man's self-
mespect is an understanding of his dignity. It
■|fne value he sets on his own full development, the condition and result of his self-re-
ilization. It is his recognition, with neither
BffiWe nor groveling, of his indispensability to
mBtiety and his insignificance in the uni-
m&rse. Most of all, within the limits society
rllows, it is a function of his self-direction
"nd self-control, of the choice and living of
he life he thinks best.
a' self-respect is the democratic good, then
W/ things that prevent its attainment are
Ulemocratic evils. Servility, which is the es-
nence of self-contempt, and the subordina
tion which engenders it are, therefore, the
ultimate evils in the democratic scheme.
Servility and pride—for pride feeds on the
servility of the humble and is naught but servility expressed in the person who exacts it
from others—are the antitrsssis of democratic self-respect. By them men devalue
their persons and disfigure their souls".2
Ideal and reality are often far apart. Together with
others, it is the Ombudsman's task to bring the citizen's bureaucratic experience closer to the ideal of
democracy. That means that the Ombudsman
watches that public authorities act on the basis of
law and within the law. The Ombudsman is neither
the only nor the main comfoller of legality of official
action. The Courts play that role. However, the Ombudsman looks at a large number of official acts and
probes that public authorities act as a minimum
within the law. In addition, the Ombudsman reminds
officials that in the pursuit of public policies, authorities must give affected individuals fair consideration
and treat them correctly and with tact. Judge
Kirchheiner, a Dutch observer, had this to say about
the standards applied by the Swedish Ombudsman
to actions of public officials:
"The rule to be applied by the
Justitieombudsman in such occasions demands from the official a serious and profound consideration of the actual situation
of his fellow citizen, a permanent cgnrnffl^i
ness of his fellow men. And this maybe typical of Swedish culture: a consistent attempt
is made to approach every problem from the
human angle. The strict legal rule to which
officials and members of the judiciary are required to conform embodies a considerable
measure of civics: a characteristiqjauestion
of mentality. The objective rule of behaviour
forjudges and officials has developed into a
requirement concerning mentality; measures designed to influence behaviour have
developed into measures influencing mentality and even to an appeal to one's sense
of humanity in dealings with one's fellow
men. In this way the Justitieombudsman
has acquired a reconciliatory task: frusjregS
tion is relieved, situations of conflict are re-
1. Barrington Moore, Jr., Reflections on the Causes of Human
Misery and upon Certain Proposals to Eliminate Them, Boston, 1972, p. 114.
2. Riker, W.H., Democracy in the United States, 1965, p. 17.
 solved, breakdowns of communication are
made good, the individual's trust in his fellow man is restored".3
The British Columbia Legislative Assembly has expressed such a code of administrative justice in section 22 of the Ombudsman Act and it provides:
A decision, recommendation, act or omission of an authority
(1) is expected to be in accordance with the
(2) must not be unjust, oppressive, or improperly discriminatory;
(3) must not be based on a mistake of law or
fact and may not be based on irrelevant
grounds or considerations;
(4) must not be based on procedures that
are arbitrary, unreasonable or unfair;
(5) must not be based on a statutory provision or other rule of law or a practice that
is unjust, oppressive or improperly
(6) should occur only for a proper purp&si'
(7) must be accompanied by adequate at
appropriate reasons to the citizen;
(8) must not be negligent or improper;   :
(9) must not be unreasonably de/ayeM| I
It is not an easy task to translate these statutory a .
visions and the ideals underlying them into reali:
Just declaring right and wrong does not achieve
lasting solution. As Ombudsman I try to bring tl
public official and the complainant closer togelh
so that each will better appreciate the other's pa
tion. I expect reason and reasonableness on bo
sides and most often I find such reasonablene:
which is reflected in the large proportion of cor
plaints that are resolved before I need to res®
pronouncing formally on any administrative wron
doing. Resolution of conflict and reconciliation b
tween citizen and official are part of the search f
administrative justice.
3. Kirchheiner, H. H., Ombudsman en Democratie, 1971, p. 3
(Summary in English).
The Office of the Ombudsman is relatively new to
British Columbia. Because of this, the Ombudsman
is bound to encounter some skepticism and opposition among those whose conduct he must investigate and question. I am reminded of Machiavelli's
observation on the fate of new systems:
"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of
success, nor more dangerous to manage
than the creation of a new system. For the
initiator has the enmity of all who would
profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in
those who would gain by the new ones."
Machiavelli "The Prince" (1513)
In the face of such dire expectations I believe I have
received an extraordinary amount of goodwill and
cooperation from ministry officials and other agencies, as can be seen from comments on ministries,
from complaint summaries presented in this repor
and from the number and proportion of complain'
that are resolved before an investigation reache|
the point where a formal finding must be made.
In any large or complex organization such as govern
ment ministries errors are bound to occur, but if thej
are quietly corrected no more needs to be said <
done. Should the errors recur or should a pattern i
erroneous decision emerge, something more
called for: some rule, practice or procedure mustb
changed to prevent the recurrence of the error,
my view, the identification of such patterns or ffifcl
is an extremely important function of my Officjm
only can this help the public by removing ongoirj
causes of friction or annoyance, but it can help miij
istries and other authorities to improve their effjagl
cy and effectiveness.
Accordingly, I have paid attention to such changfj
and I report separately on them in Part IV of this Ai
nual Report. Most of these changes are probab|
minor in themselves. I hope that over time the curri'
lative effect will be noticeable.
 Jo draw attention to a number of general prob-
ljnich have emerged repeatedly as concerns.
Iglaint investigations.
g public officials to their
micials must by law or regulation make many
lis. They also have discretionary powers to
I: specific action or undertake other commit-
HE|ceived many complaints from citizens
It that commitments were not kept. I will not
Snt on the merits of each of these complaints
HAnnual Report but I wish to clarify by citing
Bjxamples, how I, as Ombudsman, approach
Hainants in the East Kootenays came to me
Htape recording of a Minister's speech made
leian 10 years ago, in which the Minister made
nnn commitment that all those farmers and
Hrs who were about to be displaced by the Lib-
Mdage would get replacement land and would
ni/orse off after the flooding of their valley than
Hpome claims were still outstanding many
Hitter the commitment had been made. In this
Hie I assisted complainants in moving govern-
■rfficials towards a settlement. The Minister's
Btments were broad and difficult, and some
irs of having been betrayed linger on.
Hiet Minister signed a letter making a commit-
Hx financial support of a non-profit organiza-
jie Ministry later reneged on the commitment
1» en questioned by the Ombudsman, used the
gig excuse: all such commitments are, of
b, subject to funding in the budget; since the
si did not ask for or get such funds, it is not
Bby the Minister's letter of commitment. I beet at written commitments made by a Minister
bed commit the Ministry. (I refrain from men-
it details of this case as it was still open at year-
itvernment agencies negotiated for a number
Is with a private citizen and his company over
ptdevelopment project. Implementation of the
mwas delayed for a long time, through no fault
I complainant. The individual negotiated in
liaith, never received any written commit-
to and relied mostly on the word and integrity of
pment officials. Not only has he spent consid-
ilsums of money in the planning process, but
Bamissed alternative business opportunities
s raiting for the various government agencies
Iheir program together. Now the agencies tell
lis "out of luck" and they don't consider that
the government has any obligations towards him.
(This case, too, is still under consideration.)
Ministers often are called upon to make commitments for the government. When Ministers change
portfolios or leave government, their successors often are unaware of previous commitments or do not
feel morally bound by them. From the viewpoint of
the public, the commitment has been made in the
name of the Province of British Columbia, and it
makes no difference to them which individual
signed or made the commitment. In a case summarized below in Part III under CS80-064 the complainants had received written assurances over more
than a decade from previous Ministers in the Municipal Affairs portfolio that they would be consulted before the Ministry would make a decision on whether
a neighbouring municipality's boundaries could be
extended to annex the area where my complainants
resided. I would like to believe that Ministers will do
their best to honour commitments of their predecessors in office and that public servants will bring such
commitments to the attention of newly appointed
Ministers. There are general political or electoral
promises which I, of course, do not include here. The
latter are honoured or changed in the political process. My concern here is with specific administrative commitments.
A last case illustrating this recurring problem is summarized in Part III under CS80-073. A public-spirited
couple in the Interior negotiated in good faith an
agreement with the Ministry of Transportation and
Highways in 1966. To save the Ministry money, they
were willing to sell some 19 acres of land to the Ministry under two conditions which the Ministry negotiator accepted in writing: (1) the land would not be
sold to the public and (2) the land would be used as
a roadside park or campsite. Over several years, the
couple experienced considerable distress as they
observed the Ministry's apparent attempts to circumvent the terms of the agreement. I will not detail
all attempts made; they are summarized elsewhere.
I was even more amazed when Ministry officials refused, for a long time, to accept or acknowledge
that they had done anything wrong. In the end an
apology was offered after the Deputy Minister had
intervened, and a way was found in 1980 to keep the
commitment by transferring the land to the Ministry
of Lands, Parks and Housing.
As Ombudsman, I must do my utmost to hold public
officials to their commitments so that the government's word is not devalued and debased in the
eyes of the citizen. The government expects, and
will enforce when necessary, the citizen's compliance with the law. Voluntary compliance depends to
 a considerable degree on the citizen's perceiving
that those in power and office also comply with the
law, and honour official commitments. There are, of
course, legally enforceable contracts. The commitments I have in mind here are either not formal contracts or are too cumbersome or too costly to enforce through the legal process. Should a
government agency or official have to withdraw
from a commitment for a valid reason, the agency,
should explain its dilemma and seek a new arrangement with the consent of the persons affected. That
is the only honourable way out of a commitment.
Information about appeals
A frequently observed weakness in the administrative practices of ministries, boards and commissions
is the failure to provide the public with adequate information about rights, in particular rights to challenge, question or appeal a decision to a higher authority. I have specifically mentioned in this report
the cases of the Ministry of Human Resources
(CS80-050) and the Workers' Compensation Board
(at page 65). Both have accepted at least some of
my recommendations and have thus improved the
flow of information and their service to their clientele.
Some officials desire to keep appeal information a
secret for fear that the public will increasingly challenge their rulings. That is the wrong attitude. If there
is merit to a challenge, the decision ought to be reconsidered. If a challenge is without merit that will
become apparent during the appeal. While any appeal mechanism costs money and other public resources, there are at least two benefits worth emphasizing: the citizen will have his "day in court"
(and sometimes won't have to call on the Ombudsman) and a Ministry will have an opportunity to review the operation of its decision-making procedure.
Expropriation of land
Owning a piece of land is the British Columbian's
pride and joy. It is his share of "paradise" or "lotus
land", as other Canadians call it with a good-natured
combination of derision and envy. A government
that expropriates private property does so at considerable risk. An owner feels strongly about his
piece of land. Expropriation procedures and associated practices in British Columbia are clearly in need
of reform. I am not in a position to make specific
recommendations at this stage. Several reports are
in the government's hands that outline problems in
detail. From the complaints I have received and from
ie administrative practices I have observed, I conclude that something needs to be done soon about
our expropriation laws, procedures and practices as
well as other forms of land acquisition and
Reasons for decisions
Decisions from public authorities often reach the
public without being adequately explained. As Ombudsman, I must point out to public officials that it is
good public administrative practice to give reasons
for decisions to persons affected by such decisio
It also is good common sense. An unexplained on
is offensive to an intelligent person. A variatfn
this problem is the decision that is offered witw
some of the reasons; this practice may arise thS
a misnlaced concern for the well-being of the rec
ent decision ("It would upset him too much
know the truth") or as an attempt to conceal tha
reasons behind a decision because those ream
sons cannot stand up to scrutiny. Reasons offei
for a decision should be adequate and comple
and stated so as to assist the recipient in iH
standing the statutory authority upon which thel]
based, the necessity of or justification for the'gle
sion, and the facts as seen by the authority. l]
complaints to the Ombudsman would not have be
necessary if adequate, appropriate and compt
reasons had been given with decisions.
Public participation in
governmental decision-making
The public's demand for participation in the gove
ment's decision-making process has swept acrt
all ministries. Some laws and policies of the Provir
formalize participation rights in the process of m
ing decisions on public issues. The courts have i
veloped and enforced the concept of fairne
which requires that public authorities exercisinM
cial and quasi-judicial functions must observe:
rules of natural justice. Recently the courts have
tended this concept to include administrative^
sions affecting a person or groups of persona
De Smith in his book Judicial Review of Admiffl
five Action has commented:
"That the donee of a power must 'act fai
is a long-settled principle governing the*
ercise of discretion, though its meaninX
evitably imprecise. Since 1967 the cona
of a duty to act fairly has often been use®
judges to denote an implied procedural o
gation. In general it means a duty to obsei
the rudiments of na tural justice for a limi\
purpose in the exercise of functions tnam
not analytically judicial but administr^m
The courts in a number of cases have said tSj
duty of fairness requires that administrators dlS
the substance of the information to be relied on £
give an opportunity to the parties affected to mi
representations before a final decision is made.
Many complainants appeal to the Ombudsman
their attempts to be heard before a decislj
made. Some authorities welcome the public's imf
I believe the Ministry of Forests is in the process
expanding public consultation as mentioned
page 36). Other ministries, however, are more
tensive. As Ombudsman, I try to persuade auth
ties that they should hear what the public has to s
The public is often more knowledgeable than i
given credit for; at the very least, members 3|
public usually know how a prospective decisffl]
 Ithem as individuals. Acceptance of public
is. increases, in my view, with the degree to
Sfair hearing is granted to members of the
;who may be affected by such policies. Be-
ralitarian arguments, I support the principle
Pic participation in the decision-making pro-
the one approach most consistent with the
[ratic ideal.
access to government documents
eceived many complaints about denial of the
Sight to information on government business
ffal, or specifically on matters affecting them
Eluals. A few such cases are reported under
^Ministries, such as CS80-004, CS80-011,
J35, and CS80-068.
■gninded of a comment offered by Judge
Is, who was the Swedish Ombudsman in the
|Mr. Bexelius, while writing about the Swedish
llsman, said that, in his opinion, the Swedish
Ividing public access to all government docu-
I.vas more important and significant than the
i Isman institution itself.
flthe long-term view, I agree with Mr. Bexelius.^K
ral of the democratic society is based on the
lit of the informed citizen. Any impediment to
l^en informing himself about public business
1, undesirable.
loudsman I have access to government files
iDrmation, and citizens often ask me to assist
Ii gaining access to information they need.
Ii British Columbia does not have freedom of
■fion legislation, I usually try to persuade offi-
Hi share information with the public unless
i'e very good reasons for withholding it. How-
litill think the citizen should be entitled as of
ii such information; he should not have to beg
Hvould like to urge the Government and Legis-
3 ssembly of British Columbia to give consider-
ES' a Freedom of Information Bill, to recognize
ieisic rights. Many complaints to the Ombuds
man would not be necessary if the complainant had
had access to information field by government
Plain language and communication
A recurring problem the public encounters in dealing
with the provincial public service revolves around
communication difficulties. Some officials resort to
technical jargon, safe legal terms, and generally
complicated ways of saying things. I cart understand the reasons for using such forms of communication. They are safe, and they protect the official
against being held liable for misinformation. On the
other hand, the basic purpose of such a transaction
is to communicate a message to a member of the
public. If the message cannot be deciphered, the
attempt at communicating has failed. Public bureaucracies as well as others have been reminded in
the last few years that it is important to pay more
attention to ensuring that their messages are understood by the recipients. The B.C. Government's
Deregulation Code, for example, required that:
"All communications, instructions, and notices concerning the application of a regulation will be in plain language."
I understand that Legislative Counsel has already
made a commitment to plain language in the development of statutes and regulations. I would like to
broaden this requirement by requesting that all
communications from public officials to the public
be in plain language. In my view, officials must ensure that their communications are actually understood by the public to whom they are addressed. No
doubt this general statement will have to be qualified in specific situations; however, at this stage I
would just like to state that I will generally expect
public authorities and individual public officials to
ensure that the recipients of official communications
have understood the messages. True communication occurs only when such understanding is
Ssion I will not be able to persuade authori-
fiange an administrative practice, procedure
ration that I must question. I can bring such
ns to the attention of the Legislative Assem-
E Annual Report or through Special Reports.
|h problem I have encountered with the Min-
Buman Resources and I summarize the prob-
|)w. Another perhaps more serious diver-
)f opinion emerged through my investigation
mplaint against the Ministry of Municipal Af-
ayward complaint; Part III CS 80-064) I must
also draw attention to my dissatisfaction with the
Ministry of Attorney General, discussed in Part III in
my introductory remarks about the Ministry of Atton
ney General in connection with a complaint investigation in the Ministry of the Provincial Secretary
(Part III CS 80-066)
Age Discrimination in Social Assistance
I wish to bring to the attention of the Legislative Assembly one specific issue in which I have been unable to persuade a Minister to change a regulation
 which I concluded was improperly discriminatory.
This was under consideration throughout 1980.
Some of the discussion referred to below took place
in the first few months of 1981.
Early in 19801 received a complaint that the Ministry
of Human Resources improperly discriminated
against persons aged 30 and under, in payment of
income assistance under the Guaranteed Available
Income for Need Act. The Ministry, by regulation,
pays persons in that age bracket $55 less per month
for support than it pays those aged 31 and older.
The provision does not apply to single persons with
dependents, or couples with dependent children.
My investigation did not turn on a factual dispute in a
specific case but on the interpretation of the GAIN
Act. I first reviewed the statutory provisions and determined that the Ministry could establish separate
classes of income assistance, and that age could be
used as a criterion for establishing those classes
and levels. However, it was my view that if age was
to be used as a criterion for giving less financial assistance, there ought to be a good reason for such a
distinction. I felt that discrimination without a good
rationale would be improper discrimination.
I invited the Ministry of Human Resources to provide
its rationale for isolating those persons under age 31
as having less need for support monies. I was concerned because this portion of income assistance is
applied to food costs, and by adopting this regulation the Ministry appeared to imply that persons under 31 years of age needed less food than those
over that age.
The Ministry of Human Resources gave several responses to my inquiries, none of which I found adequate. The Ministry suggested that the public of British Columbia wanted this age group to get less
support monies. In particular, the Ministry persisted
in the theory that the young are more mobile and
spend less time on income assistance and that their
demonstrated need is less.
In my opinion, the Ministry failed to give adequate
reasons for isolating this age group as one with less
need for support monies, and I found that the regulation in question was improperly discriminatory. I believe the theory of mobility misses the real question:
does a 30-year-old need less money for food than a
31-year-old when both are on income assistance?
When the Ministry has already determined, by
own policy and procedure, that a person is infl I
of income assistance, that person has the ilrl
needs for food and other support as any otheifp
son on income assistance: I am neither advocati'
income assistance nor do I, as Ombudsman, ha
any comments at all on programs designed tajc
recipients of income assistance back into theM
force. These matters are not relevant to the disci
sion of the propriety of this form of discriminiffl!
Under the Ombudsman Act I may recommend tt
an authority reconsider a statutory provision wffi
believe is unjust, oppressive or improperly discrii
natory. I asked the Ministry to 'reconsider' the rec
lation. The Ministry informed me that the enactme
had been reconsidered and the regulation,^
stands, reflects government policy. Formally spe;
ing my recommendation has been accepted.!!
ever, I am not satisfied that a proper reconsidemil
has taken place. In any case, no new argumer
were brought forward in defense of the discriBi]
tory practice and nothing the Ministry or the Minis]
have said convinced me that the discriminaffl
indeed a proper one.
The Minister of Human Resources asked for tjSJ
consider the implications of my recommendati
with Cabinet colleagues and Treasury Board t
cause it involved a "significant expenditureMJ
Minister then assured me "that the current policya
curately reflects this government's positicffil
sought an opportunity to discuss my opinioffl
recommendation with the Minister of Human F
sources. I suggested that a formal internal Minis
review of this problem be initiated. The MKs|
would not entertain that suggestion.
I have not changed my opinion that this regulaffl
improperly discriminatory. What the Ministry hasS
in defense of the present regulation only incTeffi
my apprehension about the discriminatory natffl
the regulation. However, as the Minister assures i
that the regulation accurately reflects governra
policy, I have decided to close the matter as raj
my office is concerned. I now inform the Legis^
Assembly of this remaining difference of opinffl
the Minister has in essence told me that the Gora
ment will take responsibility for this provisional
Legislative Assembly.
ainants and Complaints
of this Report contains seven tables with sta-
jnformation about the work of the Ombuds-
iffice with complaints and complainants,
tables will be referred to and interpreted in
Bof the Report.
D980 a total of 3840 new complaints were-
red with my office which amounts to approxi-
320 complaints per month. In the last three
of 19791 had received 924 complaints, most
gwere still pending or under investigation at
wof 1979 when my first reporting period
mt of a communication from a complainant
|g3 opens a file in that complainant's name,
imially a complainant will have more than one
Iffit. The complaint closing statistics reflect
laditional separate and distinct complaints. I
s that an average 100 complainants have ap-
IlKly 115 complaints.
it Annual Report (for 1979) tabulated incom- _
Iraaints for each Ministry and other agencies.
Lch a table is interesting it is not the most
[five or reliable statement about a Ministry's
Knee on complaints. This year my statistical
|ffi>n is based on the closed cases, that is all
wts for which a final disposition was made
December 31,1980. To give a more complete
jaf all complaint dispositions I have included
iRables the 256 cases reported as closed in
ffiAnnual Report (Table 1). Thus I report 4197
Es closed during the 15 months from Octo-
I to December 1980. In the calendar year to
Ms Report refers there were 3941 complaints
^gether with the 1979 closings of 256 cases
runts to the combined 1979 and 1980 total of
osed complaints.
distinction that should be emphasized is
Hhe following three broad categories in dis-
I all complaints:
B first look at all jurisdictional complaints,
Beferred to in the tables as the complaints
■■about "Proclaimed Authorities" (meaning
If authorities listed in section 1 and 2 of the
I Schedule of Authorities in the Ombuds-
i man Act, proclaimed in force on October
M, 1979). Table 3 lists those authorities and
lBhe disposition of all complaints about
J   them.
( I next look at "Unproclaimed Authorities"
WTable 4). These are authorities listed in
■Kection 3-11 of the Schedule to the Om-
Ittiudsman Act which have not yet been
Ifcroclaimed in force by the Lieutenant Gov-
ernor in Council.
Iwhirdly  there are the  non-jurisdictional
I complaints (Table 5).
Jt have the authority to investigate the
■Simed Authorities" and the "non-jurisdic
tional" complaints. I therefore cannot report on the
merits of these complaints. I do, however, provide a
service to these complainants and Tables 4 and 5
assess in broad categories how much of a service
my office can provide to these complainants.
Table 1 gives some general information about complainants. Table 2 shows that complaints are fairly
representative of the populatioifdistribution over the
various regions of the Province, I believe that our
free Zenith telephone line (2221) has made it easier
for residents of outlying areas to reach the officlll
Table 3 lists in four broad categories the final disposition of all jurisdictional complaints. I will first explain
these broad disposition categories.
(1) The first column lists those complaints that
were not investigated or that were discontinued after initial inquiries.
(2) The second column lists those complaints
that were resolved to the complainant's
and my satisfaction by the Ministry involved while an investigation had not been
finalized to the point where formal recommendations had to be made.
(3) The third column lists complaints for which
a correction could only be obtained after a
formal finding on the merits had to be
(4) The fourth column lists those complaints
that had been fully investigated but that
were not substantiated.
Some 46 percent of the jurisdictional complaints
were withdrawn or an investigation was declined or
discontinued (for a further comment see below).
About 30 percent were corrected during or after an
investigation and 24 percent of the jurisdictional
complaints were not substantiated. If we disregard
those complaints that were withdrawn, declined or
discontinued we are left with 1,024 jurisdictional
complaints: 565 or 55 percent warranted some correction while 459 or 45 percent were not
Tables 4 and 5 list the extent of service given in
cases of complaints about unproclaimed authorities
and on non-jurisdictional matters. As neither type of
complaint is within my jurisdiction I do not conduct
an investigation nor do I make a finding on their merits, as stated above. The tables (4 and 5 combined)
show that in 18 percent of these complaints no assistance was necessary or possible. Most of the
time, that is in 65 percent of the cases, we supplied
information on how the complainant could pursue
the complaint on his own or we put him in the hands
of an agency that agreed to assist. In 17 percent of
the cases we went further, actively pursuing an urgent or apparently justified complaint by presenting
facts and possible resolutions to non-jurisdictional
agencies or officials.
Discontinued Complaint Investigations
There are several statutory and discretionary rea-
 sons that lead me to discontinue an investigation
that had been started. In a very small number of
cases (8) it was discovered after the start of an investigation that the complaint was not against one
of the proclaimed authorities currently within my jurisdiction. Some 39 percent of the investigations
were discontinued passively or actively by the complainant himself. Some complainants phone in a
complaint but then do not confirm it in writing (required by section 12(2) of the Ombudsman Act) or
an essential document or piece of evidence requested by my office is not supplied. A number of
complainants write or phone to inform me that they
wish to withdraw their complaint. Quite a few of
these have settled their differences with the authority on their own and a continuation of our investigation is not necessary.
Some 12 percent of these investigations were declined or discontinued when it was discovered that
the complainant had under a statute a right of review on the merits of his complaint to a court or tribunal and he had not exercised that right.
A final group of investigations were discontinued by
me on various discretionary grounds possible under
section 13 of the Ombudsman Act. The largest proportion of these are discontinued when my staff ascertain that a reasonable administrative review or redress through the courts is available that was not
known to the complainant and that he agreed could
and should be tried first.
It is difficult to assess with any precision what kind of
impact my office has on authorities. However, in line
with my views that the Ombudsman should seek appropriate changes in practices and procedures
where a pattern of malfunctioning appears, I have in
a number of cases suggested, recommended and
negotiated specific changes in practices and procedures, rules and regulations. Table 7 shows that in 84
percent of ail cases where a correction is required
only an individual is affected; but in about 16
percent of the cases a practice or procedure was
changed or a regulatory or statutory change was
proposed. A few of the changes are summarized in
Part IV of this Report.
Complaints still under investigation at year end
Approximately 870 complaints were still under investigation at the end of the reporting year (December
31,1980). Some 750 of these were within my jurisdiction, while the remaining 120 concerned non-jurisdictional complaints. Unfortunately, my office is still
.abouring under a backlog of complaints. This backlog is severe in the case of Workers' Compensation
Board complaints. I am, however, satisfied with the
progress made in dealing with the great majority of
complaints in a timely fashion.
Initially, the worst of our workload problems were alleviated when the Honourable Hugh Curtis assisted
me in getting a number of students through the
Work-in-Government program, from May to August,
1980. Treasury Board subsequently approved as
increase I had requested. Finally, my office ben.
ed greatly from an arrangement made with three
versifies in B.C. Under this arrangement, several
dents, enrolled in a variety of programs, serveaf.
of student internship in my office (at no chargi
the public), usually for three months. While the
dents learned a lot about government, my of
benefited from their enthusiasm and energetic w
Table 8 shows the present, enlarged office organ
tion which up-dates the information presented
page 5 of my 1979 Annual Report. Major chan
are that my Vancouver office now has a specralii
administrative law. Two investigators were addei
the staff of each office and our clerical supports
was strengthened.
Central Agencies
Throughout the year, my office received satitfflcl
services    from    various    central    agencies
My dealings with Treasury Board were quite satis
tory. In June of 1980,1 requested ten additional s
to deal with our larger-than-anticipated wqrklc
After a careful analysis of my request, Treai
Board provided my office with the necessary fu
to hire the ten additional .staff members and to \\
vide for additional office space and furnishings I
Treasury Board continued to be supportive and
operative in proposing to the Legislative Assen
estimates for my office with an adequate opera
budget for the 1981-82 fiscal year.
The B.C. Buildings Corporation provided satis
tory assistance to my office in leasing and prepa
additional office space to accommodatefhei
creased staff. With the help of the Purchasing Cj
mission, additional furniture and equipmentwas '
chased. The Purchasing Commission desen
particular thanks for responding promptly to
quests for furniture loans.
The Public Service Commission provided me 'I
valuable assistance in the process of filliri^ul
The B.C. Systems Corporation has helped myoftj
become familiar with its new word processing i
tern and has provided expertise in capturing stai
cal data.
My office relies on the Queen's Printer for the p i
sion of stationery and office supplies as well a s
printing requirements. At all times our needs vtj
met promptly and efficiently.
Media contacts
The news media have expressed a strong injp|
the complaints that reach my office. Occasiona j
complainant will inform the media about hj pfl
lems. Government officials have also commented
the press on on-going investigations. Invariably, a
dia representatives will then ask for my comme*
{Soften a need, under such circumstances, to
Facts straight before things get too distorted,
|:ierally, I am unwilling to comment on cases
{still under investigation. However, on com-
of investigations I will recognize the legiti-
iformation needs of the media and the public,
if review appropriate arrangements after the
(of this Annual Report.
I am considering an arrangement whereby
accredited media representatives will be apprised,
from time to time, of a number of completed cases
that may be of general interest. If the complainant's
consent can be obtained, I will then consider releasing case information to journalists. Authority for such
releases is established by section 30(2) of the Ombudsman Act.
Bplaints were registered against the Ministry
I ulture and Food. The majority were still under
Igtion at year-end. Of the complaints con-
||i 1980, about half were not substantiated
- ie other half, a resolution was found that was
lible to complainants and the Ministry. It was
bssary for me to make findings on the merits
IBresolved complaints. Cooperation from the
t was excellent.
lieque —closure of loan account
Ir who had a loan from the Ministry of Agricul-
Bl Food under the Agricultural Land Devel-
b Act had received a request for payment of
ltjnt of money on April 11, 1980. On April 18,
ui wrote to the Ministry and forwarded a certi-
lique in the required amount. The cheque
ri ached its destination and in spite of several
is>n the complainant's part to clarify the mat-
BDan account was closed for nonpayment of
piired installment, and the total amount of his
las added on to his tax bill. He then
Hied to my office.
aiistant obtained from the complainant a
;xpy of the certified cheque he had mailed to
iiistry. In addition, the complainant was able to
kia letter from his bank stating that the certi-
nque had not been cashed.
'dn these documents, the Ministry of Agricul-
pt Food was willing to reinstate the complain-
asount and to accept, through my office, a
rijft to replace the lost certified cheque. As
pjplaint was now resolved by the Ministry, no
■aiction or recommendation was required.
Included a fencing project for the control of grazing.
Most of the funds for the fencing project were obtained through the Federal-P^rgvincial Agriculture
and Rural Development Subsidiary Agreement
(ARDSA) and the projectytself was administered by
provincial government personnel employed through
the Ministries of Agriculture and Food and ForesUja
Ministry personnel thought the fencing had been
completed. There was also some disagreement
among the participants as to whether or not the
additional fencing was in fact proposed in the original plan. In any event, a Ministry representative
claimed that there were no funds available for additional work on the project.
My investigator discussed this problem with Ministry
personnel and suggested that he visit the reserve to
confirm the length and location of the fencing required. Ministry staff responsible for administering
ARDSA funds agreed to review the situation and to
make an inspection. On the basis of this review, they
decided to make available the necessary additional
funds to complete the project. The complaint was
resolved to the satisfaction of the Band. No formal
findings or recommendations were required.
The Attorney General's Ministry has many and
varied responsibilities which deeply affect citizens'
legal rights. It must be expected that the Ministry
would attract many complaints.
My staff and I received good cooperation from
several branches of this Ministry: Criminal Justice
Division, Court Services, Land Titles and Corrections. Others were somewhat less than helpful: Civil
Law Division and the Public Trustee.
ui j the cows at home
-iti: Indian Band complained that a fencing
briad not been completed according to plan
HB approximately three-quarters of a mile of
el ill needed to be constructed in order to
era neighbour's cattle from grazing on Band
ET; Band-further complained that without this
fioil fencing, the money already spent on the
Jffia'as wasted.
teHthe Band developed a Coordindated Rets /lanagement Plan for their reserve which
A. Criminal Justice Division
A case summarized below under thfe title "Abduction charges" which reached me in 1979 fo-
cussed some signific. jurisdictional issues for me
in relation to the Att ,iey General's prosecuting
function. When my assistant made inquiries with
Crown Counsel's office in this particular case our
right of access to policy statements of the Criminal
Justice Division of the Attorney General's Ministry
was questioned. I felt it necessary to have access to
 by permission oi Johnny Hart and Reld Enterprises, Inc.
policy statements in order to understand the Crown
position on prosecution of offences and to be able to
explain to the complainant why no prosecution was
initiated. I expressed my concerns over access to
policy statements to the Deputy Attorney General.
The Criminal Justice Division now does afford
my office access to policy statements on request
and headquarters staff are now available for consultations. Further, this case among others precipitated
a meeting between my solicitor and a representative
of the Criminal Justice Division which resulted in a
memorandum of understanding delineating the
areas of my jurisdiction in the criminal justice system, and areas which I recognize (and which have
been recognized by courts in this country) as matters in which the Attorney General and counsel instructed by him have absolute discretion. Examples of some areas in which I will not assert my
jurisdiction are as follows:
(1) the position of the Crown on bail hearings;
(2) the decision of Crown Counsel to make application for a psychiatric remand;
(3) the exercise of discretion in relation to the
carrying out of a prosecution including:
(a) approval of charges prior to their swearing,
(b) stays of proceedings,
(c) withdrawals,
(d) diversion;
(4) the exercise of Crown Counsel's discretion in
deciding whether or not to release circumstances to defence counsel;
(5) the Crown's right of electS.n on dual often
(6) the exercise of Crown Counsel's discn
during the trial including:
(a) the decision to call or not to call partii
(b) Crown Counsel's position on mattei
law and evidence;
(7) the Crown's position on sentences
Complaints concerning the following do fall vt
my jurisdiction and are clearly matters of admini
tion that I will investigate:
(1) the failure to notify or cancel witnesses;
(2) the failure to make explanations to witne
or victims on request;
(3) the failure to advise victims of the proce
in making application for restitution;
(4) the failure to respond to correspondence
witnesses or complainants;
(5) questions of lengthy delay not related t(
time required to exercise a discretion.
Furthermore, the Attorney General's Mil
administers a number of statutes which do not
essarily relate to the exercise of absolute discr
by the Attorney General, and I may investigate
plaints concerning the firearms provisions unde
Criminal Code, the Private Investigators Licei
Act, and the Police Act.
jpreciate the action of the Criminal Justice
of the Ministry in advising ite^staff of the role
mbudsman as it relates to them, and of the
cooperation between the two offices.
Law Division
ItSivision provides legal advice to other min-
Khile a few of the lawyers made a personal
assist my staff I have had more problems
foivision than any other branch of govern-
K following comments can be understood
ne context of the case summarized under
■'Reduction of Superannuation" and pre-
jelow under the Ministry of the Provincial
% As explained in that summary there can
ioubt as to the complainant's identity be-
Iithe publicity that surrounded this case,
ie Loffmark case, the Attorney General has
■to permit one of his solicitors to respond to
litigator's questions. This solicitor had pro-
BfSuperannuation Branch with the legal
rvhich formed the basis for the decision to
Mr. Loffmark's pension, but the questions
:im were obviously intended to ascertain
the had been subjected to any improper
Ijor suggestions. (Allegations of political in-
ne had  been widely publicized  by  the
33d with similar written questions, an official
liperannuation Branch had no hesitation in
Ing. However, the Attorney General has tak-
■Bsition that, because of the solicitor-client
flip that exists between his official and the
Hlation Branch, I am prevented by section
l^mthe Ombudsman Act from questioning
ti tor. Indeed, the very inquiry is described as
git his integrity as a solicitor, and even to
Ethat there could have been improper inter-
«r attempted interference "is offensive in
itme", according to a senior official of that
B/e taken the view that my inquiry in this
s is valid and proper, and is in the public
itjnlike the Attorney General, I can see a
I^Bction between confidential solicitor-client
l^ffiyhich I have no interest, and any improper
■attempt to influence those matters, which
iliuld affect the decision I am investigating.
!«re, although I expect my staff to observe
■Standards of common courtesy and de-
■Ejffice is no place for an investigator who
H'om asking relevant questions for fear of
Hnder public service feelings. Complainants
I |ht to expect thorough investigations, and
I may be offended in the extreme by what
pieive as unfairness or injustice.
awse Mr. Loffmark's pension has been re-
pfcid because of my findings concerning the
hi uation Branch, I have now closed the case
with respect to that Branch. However, in view of the
principle involved, I have not endfed my investigation,
and after exchanging several letters of argument
with the Attorney General over 10 months in 1980 on
the one outstanding point, I continue to find his
position unacceptable. Since this particular Ministry
has unique kinds of responsibilities, it was inevitable
that, sooner or later, various jurisdictional questions
would arise with respect to my investigations. In
such situations, I had expected to find in the Attorney General's Ministry a recognition of the spirit and
intent of the Ombudsman Actjreflected in a willing-:;;
ness to find permissible ways of allowing my investigations to proceed out of respect for the interests of
complainants, or the public interest generally Instead, I have often encountered a self-protective,
narrow, legalistic approach, and one could almost
believe that finding jurisdictional or procedural fine
points to block or endlessly delay my investigations
presents a more exhilarating challenge than cooperating for the resolution of citizens' difficulties. This
case is typical of several that have led to similar
problems with this Ministry, and that must be resolved by one means or another during the coming
I am not requesting specific action by the Legislative Assembly at this time. The Ombudsman Act
provides statutory powers for my lawful access to
information and I will have to resort to those powers
should my investigations be seriously hindered. I
feel, however, that I must report to the Assembly
when I receive something less than full cooperation
from any government authority.
C. Public Trustee
The Public Trustee has taken a very rigid and
bureaucratic approach to my office. He has attempted to limit my investigators' access to his staff. The
Public Trustee also objected when an employee of a
different government ministry brought a complaint
to me about the Public Trustee, on behalf of a citizen.
After receiving no response from the Public Trustee
to his direct requests for help over a period of one
year, the complainant came to my office for assistance. The problem was quickly acknowledged by
the Public Trustee and steps to rectify the situation
were taken.
When the ministry employee approached my
office with another complaint relating to the same
person, the Public Trustee informed the complainant
that complaints against him must be "funnelled"
through "proper" inter-ministerial channels and not
through the Ombudsman. The Public Trustee also
asked me to inform hir >f the exact day on which I
received the complaint refused and explained to
the Public Trustee that the services of my office are
available to everyone in the Province, and that it
certainly appeared that the complainant had very
good reasons for seeking my assistance.
by permission of Johnny Hart and Held Enterprises. Inc.
Au. Pe(SjWT5 will e/rmst:
. ,    v**r raef-
yOl IT DiPN'r Vo us
-   'ANY Cood VAST I
I suspected there was more to his action than
an eagerness to enforce the bureaucratic notion of
"following channels": the irateness of the Public
Trustee made me think he had retribution against my
public service complainant on his mind. I shall be
watching very closely.
D. Corrections Branch
In 1980, my staff visited the Lower Mainland
Regional Correctional Centre, the Youth Detention
Centre, Lakeside Women's Correctional Centre for
Women, New Haven Correctional Centre,
Kamloops, and Prince George Regional Correctional
Centre in order to meet with inmates and staff. The
volume of complaints in the corrections field has
risen in 1980 as awareness of my office increased.
The complaints by inmates to my office fall into
three general categories. Inmates complain that
they have been denied something to which they feel
entitled, or that the rules are not being followed.
They also complain against the general standards or
conditions in an institution. I often refer the latter
complaints to the Inspection and Standards Branch
for review and I monitor the Branch's review. Lastly,
inmates will frequently request assistance in resolving problems outside the institution.
I also receive complaints from staff of correctional centres which usually relate to employment
and personnel matters.
CS 80-003
Abduction charges
I received a letter from a mother distraught over the
fact that no one would assist her in recovering her
child who was taken by her husband from the mi
monial home. She was disheartened by the actioi
the Ministry of Human Resources, the Superinl
dent of Child Welfare, the police, prosecutors, I
yers and the courts.
Her main complaint was against prosecutors i
ployed by the Ministry of Attorney General for rel
ing to lay abduction charges under section 23.
the Criminal Code. Section 250(1) states in essei
that everyone who, with the intent to deprive a |
ent who has lawful care of a child under fourteer
the possession of that child, unlawfully takes
child and is guilty of an indictable offence. M
It was found that the mother's custody order,,
made after the child was removed from the matrii
nial home and as such, it was the Attorney Gener
interpretation of the Criminal Code that abdncl
charges could not be laid. My assistant receive
copy of the policy statements of the Attorney Ger
al concerning abduction charges and I explainer
the complainant that the prosecutors had actet
accordance with the law and policy. The compli
against the Attorney General, therefore, was
My assistant, however, sought help from the Suf
intendent of Child Welfare who had taken steps
locate the child in one province and had agreec
take similar action through child welfare ofroes
the other provinces. The Superintendent agre
that if the child was located and found to be in nt\
of protection, the mother would immediately be n
tied. Under the circumstances, little could be d(
to assist the complainant other than to refer hei
the courts and legal counsel.
CS 80-004
Access to public documents
A man complained that he had been unable to
tain a copy of a Judicial Council Record of Inq
although the inquiry itself had been held in public,
had requested this transcript through the vari
officials and government departments involved
had been refused access.
During my investigation my solicitor found that
Judicial Council was unable to release the ti
scripts since it had delivered the Record of Procej
ings to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, as
quired by law. Our complainant was then advise
contact the Provincial Secretary, who would norrr
have caretaking of documents submitted to ;
Lieutenant Governor in Council. The Deputy Pre
cial Secretary responded that he did not hav
copy of the Record of Proceedings, but thoug
would be available from the Attorney Genei
My office then requested a copy of the transcr!
from the Deputy Attorney General, who claimed j
authorization for release would require a fv|pij
the Executive Council and that he was not preps-
ite such a Minute. I then approached the
ly General directly and was happy to hear his
Be, namely that transcripts of a public hearing
me available to the public. He referred us
p the Provincial Secretary under whose care
tuments would lie.
ntacting the Provincial Secretary's Office
was informed that they did not have the
of Proceedings and we were again referred
Rttorney General's Office. After many more
telephone calls and letters, it appeared that
lord was lost. My solicitor contacted the Chief
[Chairman of Judicial Council) who agreed to
popy of the transcript to the Provincial Secre-
Hfice. Thus one full year after he had made
t request, the complainant received the
mplaint was of particular interest to me since
Bed the frustration a citizen may encounter
(tempting to obtain access to a public docu-
|nce free access to public documents is
we for an informed public in a democracy I
Icontinuous roadblocks to access a cause
lorney General's intervention was much ap-
Kl. It is important to set principle above expe-
lon issues that are basic to our free and
latic political system.
nd clear title: except that
iiys may own your property!
le complaints were received from two indi-
Iwho had purchased properties during the
Iv years. After purchasing these properties,
Icovered that portions of the properties had
ssly been acquired by the Ministry of Trans-
|n and Highways for highways purposes,
kmplained that the fact that the Ministry owns
• these properties was not on the Certificates
(Which they had obtained from the Land Titles
l.t the time of their purchases.
£ 23 of the Land Title Act provides that a
ite of indefeasible title is subject to existing
M"s and other types of public property. Thus,
luugh the title of the Ministry to these areas
rt on the Certificates of Title in these cases, as
son of law, these areas were in fact owned by
istry. What concerned me was that the Certi-
3if Title in both of these cases did not state
it Ministry owned a portion of these proper-
pi consequently purchasers of such proper-
h d be misled with respect to the quantity and
■property they were buying.
[tf discovered that in about 1970 the Land
SPfice hadbegun inserting a notice on Certifi-
Kf Title which indicated that the Ministry of
sjrtation and Highways had purchased a por-
ajie property for highways purposes. Howev
er, Certificates of Title in prior years did not have
such notifications. Further, there is, even now, no
statutory obligation on either the Ministry of Transportation and Highways or the Land Titles Office to
ensure that such notices are stamped on CenfifH
cates of Title of properties so affected. Thus, during
the past ten years, while the Ministry and the Land
Titles Office as a matter of practice have put such
notices on titles affected, there is no obligationvon
them to do so.
I asked the Ministry of Attorney General for some
assurance that such notifications would be placed
on all titles affected whenever the Ministry of Transportation and Highways acquired a portion of a
property for highways purposes. Both the Ministries
of Transportation and Highways and Attorney General cooperated in this matter, and I received this
Unfortunately, the fact remains that properties, of
which portions were acquired by the Ministry of
Transportation and Highways prior to 1970, may not
have this fact on the Certificates of Title. I did not
recommend that the Land Titles Office undertake to
amend each of the titles so affected during those
years, because of the immense administrative costs
involved and because few purchasers are unaware
of the existence of a highway on a property prior to
their purchase. The public can assume, however,
that at the time of purchasing a property the Certificate of Title to the property will state whether a part
of that property has been acquired for highways
purposes since 1981, and probably will indicate
such an acquisition since 1970.
If property owners suspect that a portion of their
property may be Highways or Public Roads and their
Certificates of Title do not reflect that, I urge them to
contact their local Ministry of Transportation and
Highways office for clarification and amendment of
title if necessary.
CS 80-006
Double jeopardy
A property owner complained that he was forced to
pay legal fees of $75 in order to have a lien discharged from his property. He tendered the total
amount of the lien ($140) to the builder but in order to
receive an executed discharge he was required to
pay an additional $75 to the lawyer who had registered the lien against the property. He complained
about that extra charge.
I referred him to the Law Society of B.C. concerning
the conduct of the lawyer. In addition, the Builders
Lien Act was reviewed. Section 27(d) of the Builders Lien Act provides that where the claim of the lien
has been satisfied, the registrar, on being satisfied
as to the facts, may cancel the claim of the lien
accordingly. The intent of that section was to allow a
summary procedure to discharge builders liens
where appropriate. This procedure may have been
 available to the complainant.
For clarification, my solicitor contacted a land registrar who felt that section 27(d) was not an appropriate mechanism to discharge builders liens. My solicitor then discussed the problem with the Director of
Land Titles who agreed that the procedure was
appropriate in some circumstances. He then issued
a policy directive to all land registrars in the Province
advising them of this procedure. He also undertook
to include the policy directive in Volume 2 of the
Policy and Procedures Manual for Land Registry
Offices. The Director's actions were appreciated.
CS 80-007
The cheque is in the mail
A psychologist who had entered into an agreement
for services with the Ministry (the Commissioner of
Corrections) complained that she had not been fully
paid. Payment was to be made for each session
provided after submission of a completed invoice
which was to be paid monthly by the Corrections
Branch. After the agreement terminated the psychologist submitted her invoice for the month of
March. As only a portion of the total amount was
paid she contacted my office to complain that, despite repeated phone calls and assurances, two
months later she had still not received the amount
owed to her.
My staff contacted the Ministry and after discussion
the problem was resolved promptly and a cheque
CS 80-008
Correcting a committal warrant
An inmate on a temporary absence from a community correctional centre was apprehended and returned to a correctional centre by two sheriffs. The
inmate wrote to me expressing several complaints
involving this experience. He complained that there
was no due process when he was apprehended
while on temporary absence; that at the time of
sentencing, the pre-sentence report was erroneous
and inaccurate; that the warrant of committal was in
error; and that the Legal Services Society would not
support an appeal of his case.
Inquiries were made to determine the circumstances
leading to the complaint of the inmate in each instance. While on temporary absence, he was ordered by the Community Centre Director to return.
No additional or separate charge was required to
escort him back to the Centre. Further discussion
with the inmate and his lawyer established that the
substance of the pre-sentence report was read and
questioned in court and that essential parts of the
report were based on material submitted to the Probation Officer by the inmate without the knowledge
of his counsel. Inquiries were made of the Chairman
of the Appeals Committee of the Legal s|yj.
Society. In making their decision they had con'
ered submissions by the inmate's counsel anr
formed the inmate that their decision not to supn
the appeal did not limit him from appeal if hs'
desired. The warrant of committal was found tot'
error as the inmate was charged with posses!) j
stolen property over $200 but convicted of the le:
offense of possesion of stolen property under $
No administrative error or injustice was involve
returning the complainant to the Correctional C
tre. The pre-sentence report had been questijfij-
court and the substance of the report had b
agreed to in front of the Judge. At the initiative cr
staff the error in the warrant of committal was
rected and the records held by the institution v
CS 80-009
A home to live in
The complainant alleged that she was unabli
persuade a member of the staff of the Public Trui
to release funds from her severely handicap
daughter's $46,000 trust account to purchase ai
storey permanent home. At the time of complainl
family was about to lose their rental accommocfe
and the purchase would enable the daughte
continue her rehabilitation program in the si
The Public Trustee claimed he had never recewi
specific request from the complainant asking fo
allocation of monies from the trust fund for pilrel"
of a suitable home. The information containeoin
complainant's request was sufficient for the Pi:
Trustee to begin discussions with the complaii
on the advisability of the purchase.
Shortly after I brought the matter to his attention;
Public Trustee authorized disbursement of $40
towards the purchase of a home for the thai
capped daughter and her parents. The complaii
and her family were delighted with this resolr
and no further action was required.
During 1980, more than half of the comply
against the Ministry of Consumer and Co(pi]j
Affairs were directed against the Rentalsman >
the Rent Review Commission. Nearly half of3
complaints against the Rentalsman and the I'
Review Commission related to the accessSji
Rentalsman services and delays in the handlin1'
files. Many complainants had difficulty reachinc3
 man's office by telephone and some
lined that Rentalsman Officers were not
fin returning calls or sending letters as prom-
rappears that these problems were caused
I by inadequate staffing to meet the in-
I workload brought about by the extremely
lancy rate for rental accommodation in urban
i>f the province. The addition of new staff
She latter part of 1980 in that office appears to
Id some effect in alleviating the pressure
1 at the time of writing, I am still receiving
(Tits of delay and poor telephone access,
roughout 1980, the Rentalsman and his staff
:ven my office a high degree of cooperation
Bstance. Senior staff at the Rentalsman's
have readily reviewed cases at my request
|/e acknowledged and corrected errors when
lere brought to their attention. Explanations
[ologies were offered when warranted,
l/en the volume of complaints received
I the Rentalsman during the year, I have fo-
I on the most expeditious resolution of individ-
IBalaints. During 1981, I expect to be placing
Imphasis on the practices and procedures
IBe Office of the Rentalsman which may be
bible for some of these grievances.
le remaining complaints were directed
liother branches of the Ministry including
Iner Affairs, Corporate Affairs, the Liquor
I and Licensing Branch, and the Liquor Distri-
iirsonal touch — an imposition
B)n considering the purchase of a used car
■I the office of the Central Registry in Victoria
ly of Consumer & Corporate Affairs) to ascer-
lether any liens were registered against that
Bitral Registry officials told him that while
Is from outside of Victoria could be handled
rbhone, residents of Victoria were required to
3 at the Central Registry offices in person. The
pinant felt that all residents of British Columbia
i receive equal treatment, particularly since
alities at the Central Registry were better suit-
rovide information over the telephone than in
rj quiries by my assistant, I found that since
11978, the Central Registry has maintained a
|3 of immediately meeting all search requests
b; telephone at the time the call was received,
J3ss of its place of origin. However, over time,
jictice was no longer fully understood and
tp by individual staff members.
Hitral Registry once more outlined its existing
H:o each employee, namely of meeting all
S requests over the telephone regardless of
H:e of origin of the call.
CS 80-011
The Superintendent and
the Real Estate Council
A woman complained to my office about the way in
which the Superintendent of Brokers, Insurance and
Real Estate handled her complaint. She had written
to the Real Estate Council about*the actions of a real
estate agent. She claimed that the agent had misinformed her about the state of a water well which in
her opinion was iniajfequate. She had to spend over
a thousand dollars on the well. The Real EstafP:
Council found no wrongdoing on the part of the
agent. The Superintendent of Brokers, Insurance
and Real Estate agreed with the Council that there
was no wrongdoing on the part of the agent. The
woman's complaint to me was that the Superintendent did not provide sufficient reasons for his decision. Also, the Superintendent refused a subsequent request for copies of the material on which the
decision was based. He advised the woman instead
that the file was available for inspection in
Section 43 of the Real Estate Act provides that all
decisions of the Superintendent refusing, suspending or cancelling a license and all reports of the Real
Estate Council shall, subject to section 8, be open to
public inspection. This section stipulates that all
communication to the Superintendent or a member
or officer of the Council with respect to a licensee
are privileged.
On inquiring at the Superintendent's Office concerning which files were considered open to public inspection, my assistant was initially advised that the
files were available. However, when she went to the
Superintendent's Office, no public access to any
material was allowed. After further consultation, the
information that was considered to be open to public
inspection, was provided. It was essentially the
same material already in the complainant's
After discussion the Superintendent recognized the
need for more explicitly and completely reasoned
decisions. To this end new procedures were being
tested to provide reasons in any case where there
was a finding after an inquiry that no wrongdoing
had occurred. Also, henceforth, the response of a
licensee with respect to an inquiry would be available for inspection and copies would be provided.
My office will continue to monitor access to information about Council decisions until the new procedures are fully in place.
CS 80-012
Can the government dictate when
a piano may be played at home?
A tenant complained that the Rentalsman had ordered her to vacate her apartment for playing the
piano outside of hours specified by the Rentalsman.
 Playing the piano was very important to the complainant's family. However, the unappreciative neighbour upstairs complained to the Rentalsman about
the exuberant piano playing. The Rentalsman then
issued an Order restricting piano playing to the
hours of 2 to 4 p.m. and never on a Sunday. The
tenant tried to comply, but inevitably, a Termination
Notice was served citing two specific instances
where the Order was breached. The complainant
protested that in one instance, specific permission
from the neighbour's daughter had been obtained
before playing while the neighbour was not home at
the time. In the other instance the piano tuner attended outside the prescribed hours. Nevertheless,
after a hearing, the Termination Notice was upheld
by the Rentalsman.
The law provides that a tenant has 15 days to apply
to the Court for a judicial review of an Order of the
Rentalsman. I advised the complainant of her right to
appeal as I was unable to investigate until she exercised that right or the time to appeal had expired.
The complainant was successful in court and the
Termination Notice was set aside. The Court ruled
that the Rentalsman did not have authority to issue
such a restrictive Order concerning piano playing
times. The neighbour moved away, and the complainant's family played the piano happily ever after.
CS 80-013
Improper termination of services
A teacher holding a first class permanent teaching
certificate had been working for the Correspondence Branch of the Ministry of Education as a part-
time instructor for approximately 25 years. In the
summer of 1980 she was informed that her services
were no longer required because the Branch now
had a new policy including preference for teachers
with recent classroom experience. The complainant
was unwilling to accept this and the other reasons
given. She felt that she had provided adequate services for many years and that she should be offered
a new contract covering the 1980/81 school year.
The Ministry of Education believed that its new policy was indeed appropriate for the Correspondence
Branch. However, the Ministry agreed with me that
the policy should have been phased in, particularly
as it applied to instructors who had served the
Branch for many years. The Ministry also expressed
concern with its own procedures used in terminating
this contract.
I informed Ministry officials that I believed this teacher had been treated unfairly and I recommended
that her contract be renewed.
The Ministry accepted the recommendation and the
complainant has, in the meantime, received anol
for a new contract.
This Ministry has a wide range of responsi
ities. In addition to those matters which thefw
"environment" normally brings to mind, such asp
lution control or fish and wildlife management, it a
administers the Water Act, and the Provincial Em
gency Program. This wide range was reflected in 1
diversity of complaints which involved the l\|njs
either alone or in conjunction with other Minisin,
Despite the diversity of complaints, two spa
ic areas were clearly the centres of consideral
public cgpcern: pesticide-related problems, invc
ing the issuing of pesticide use permits or deS)
of the Pesticide Control Appeal Board, and qui
tions involving government assistance to vicMs
flooding. In both these areas I perceive a need
greater dissemination of information to the public
the re-evaluation of procedures.
For the most part, I found the staff of th'ffira
try, and particularly those in the regional offices,
be knowledgeable and cooperative. In many case
and especially where a problem arose from a mist
derstanding of legislation or policy, they were able
resolve matters quite rapidly.
CS 80-014
A matter of discretion
The complainants attempted to expropriate a va
small parcel of land under the Water Act. The own
of the land would not agree to offers of compens
tion. The complainants asked the Comptr§H|
Water Rights to determine the amount of compens
tion that should be paid. The complainants aski
the Ombudsman to intervene when the Comptrol
refused to exercise his discretion under the Wat
Act to determine whether the cost of arbitrating tl
dispute exceeded the value of the land subject
At issue was whether the Comptroller of Wat
Rights had acted properly in refusing to determii
the compensation payable by the complainant
Water Act requires that the Comptroller fo,rpi i
opinion about the value of the property subject
expropriation. Once this preliminary opinion
formed, the Comptroller may determine the sum
compensation himself or appoint arbitrators trjypi
this decision. Where the cost of an arbitrator e
ceeds the likely amount of compensation, tl
Comptroller may, and in my opinion should, detf
mine the amount of compensation himself instead
forcing the parties to resort to costly arbitration pr
ceedings. The Comptroller had not exercised r
 jpn properly as he had never formed an opin-
6ut the value of land invtwed. He simply did
ra to get involved in private disputes,
w/iewing an opinion submitted by my office,
Ennptroller of Water Rights agreed that the
bf land was disproportionate to the cost of
Big the amount of compensation. He then
Eled to determine the amount to be paid.
ing dam and damning delay
Br wishing to construct an earth-fill dam on his
ty wrote to the Water Rights Branch in 1975 to
t the Branch's approval for his dam. Such
si is required under the Water Act. It was not
mie four years later, in 1979, that the plans
mjrned with a short note stating that they had
Ejected. The farmer complained about unrea-
| delay.
IBrough investigation, I was unable to find any
asons why it had taken the Branch four years
rmine that the plans were unacceptable and
extent the complaint was substantiated,
ler, I also found that the farmer had not been
ply affected by the delay.
Inplainant had not intended to construct the
Ifing the four-year period and hence had not
leonvenienced. The factors considered in re-
llne plans had not changed over the four-year
land the plans would have been rejected in
Id the decision been made at that time. The
lad argued that had the plans been rejected
I he could have gone back to the drafting
Hand requested that the required changes
Bvithout additional expense. However, after
fctant reviewed this matter with the engineer,
Ired that the changes would have been billed
Bnplainant whether done in 1975 or 1979. It
lo'eared to me that the complainant had suf-
■Knost, minor inconvenience as a result of
BShion the complainant had suffered no
losses, and while the delay was unreasonable it had
resulted from a nonrecurring error rather than a
faulty administrative system. I decided, therefore,
not to make any recommendations in this case.
CS 80-016
Paying the government for a year off
A man who had been a big game guide and outfitter
for over 20 years wanted to take a year off from his
guiding business. The Ministry representative advised him, however, that even though he would not
be working he would still be required to pay an
insurance premium of $250 in addition to his annual
guiding licence fee of $50 or he would lose his
territory. He complained that it was unfair and unnecessary for the Ministry to require that he purchase
public liability insurance during this period.
My staff discussed the problem with the Guiding
Administrator who was in the process of writing a
new policy and procedure manual for Conservation
Officers which would include a clarification of this
issue. Unfortunately, the Regional Conservation Officer in question appeared to have been operating
from a partly outdated 1973 policy statement.
The Guiding Administrator recognized that the
guide had a valid complaint, and immediately advised the Regional Conservation Officer that the
complainant should be given a permit to discontinue
the use of his territory for one year without having to
buy either a licence or insurance. In order to prevent
similar complaints from arising pending completion
of the new policy manual, the Guilding Administrator
issued a directive to all regional conservation officers outlining the correct approach regarding applications to take time off from the guiding business.
CS 80-017
Bear facts: the grizzly that got away
The Ministry refused to issue a new grizzly hunting
tag to a bear hunter on the grounds that he already
had shot and killed a grizzly within the region. In
HI/IZARD OF ID by permission of Johnny Hart and Held Enterprises, Inc
 accordance with the regulations, he would be ineligible to obtain another tag for five years. The hunter
disputed the fact that he had killed the bear in
question, and claimed that he should be eligible for a
renewed grizzly tag.
While hunting along a road in the bush at dusk the
hunter shot and wounded a grizzly but it got away.
Early the next day, he found and shot a small wounded grizzly. He reported both episodes to the local
Conservation Officer, insisting that he could tell from
the relative size and colour of the two animals that
they were two different bears. The Conservation
Officer believed the same animal was involved in
both incidents. A ballistics test, necessary to remove
any doubt, was never performed since the complainant's partner was leaving for another job within a
month and did not want to give up his rifle for months
of testing. The complainant later received the skin of
the animal he had shot from the Conservation Officer who discarded the carcass. He had voluntarily
cancelled his hunting tag in the belief that the Ministry would perform additional tests that would exonerate him. The Ministry decided that it was highly likely
that the complainant had merely finished off the
bear he had wounded the day before, and it therefore refused to issue the complainant another tag.
Ten months later the hunter complained to my office.
Since the carcass was destroyed, definitive tests
could not be performed. The complainant only saw
the bear briefly, in poor light; he expected to find a
wounded bear after the first shooting; there was no
evidence of other bear tracks from the hypothetical
"first bear" in the vicinity of the first shooting, or
reports from other hunters of another wounded bear.
Hunters are often surprised by the discrepancy between what they thought they were shooting at and
what they actually bagged. The complainant appeared to have accepted the possibility that there
was only one bear when he cancelled his tag. The
Conservation Officer could have done more to establish the truth of the complainant's claim that there
were two bears.
However, once the complainant cancelled his old
tag, the Conservation Officer had no obligation to
continue the investigation. All available evidence
pointed to the one bear theory. The Ministry considered the evidence and testimony fairly in reaching its
decision that there was only one bear. No additional
evidence was available.
The Ministry had reviewed the case through an internal appeal procedure, and I concluded that this
mechanism was sufficient. The complaint was not
Do gold miners have a right to privacy?
A lawyer complained on behalf of a mining company
that two employees of the Ministry had entered onto
his client's gold mining site without announcing
themselves or the purpose of their visit. The c
plainant felt that his client was justifiably concer
about the presence of unidentified persons on
property in view of the risk of vandalism or the
equipment and gold on the mine propertyM
My staff learned that the original explanation foi
officials' visit was that photographs were reqi
for a slide presentation on placer mining operati
A second explanation was that the visit was a fol
up inspection to Pollution Control Act chai
which had been laid against the company
months earlier. Although regional staff are enc
aged to contact management upon an initial™
site, subsequent visits may be unannounced,
ticularly where the objective of an inspection
witness alleged violations.
The lawyer had a valid complaint. On the basis o
facts in this case, I notified the Ministry of my
ings and recommended that a letter of explana
and apology be sent to the complainant. This i
ogy satisfied the mine owner and his lawyer anc
complaint was thus rectified.
The majority of complaints about the Minis
Finance were divided between those involving
Consumer Taxation Branch and those invol^inJ
Real Property Taxation Branch. Complaints con
ing the Consumer Taxation Branch were rr
about the application of Social Service Tax an
qualification for the various exemptions unde
Social Service Tax Act. Issues involving the
Property Taxation Branch predominantly conce
complaints about penalties for the late paymt
property taxes and the eligibility for homec
The Ministry staff has been extremely h
and cooperated fully with my investigators. V
ceived immediate access to information reque
and many complaints were resolved.
CS 80-019
An accountant requests help with his ta>|
A chartered accountant, now living in Alberta, j
to me with a complaint that his application 1
Social Service Tax refund had been refused.
The accountant had been offered a position \\
firm in northern Alberta. As part of the employ
benefits, his new employer was willing to pNj
him with a new automobile. On checking the cH
the vehicle he wanted, the accountant disco j
that the cost was $1,000 cheaper in VanOTvell
in northern Alberta. As a result he purchased
vehicle in B.C. with the intention of movinpyohiij
job in Alberta. He then drove the truck from Va<j
 WIZARD Or ID by permission of Johnny Hart and Field
Alberta and turned it over to his employer
i days after its purchase. The complainant
d that the regulations allowed for a refund of
S< where a motor vehicle is resold within
days of its purchase to someone outside
1 Columbia. He felt that he had been unreason-
IJjied the refund since he had purchased it on
I of a nonresident company and had trans-
lit to his employer immediately on arrival in
I details on the resale in Alberta were ob-
||om the company that eventually purchased
I complainant was, in effect, purchasing the
I as an agent for the Alberta company. The
Ise was made in the complainant's name as a
lof convenience, and at no time was the corn-
It to retain ownership of the vehicle. The car
[who had sold the vehicle to the complainant
Intacted. It appeared that the salesman had
lid to the complainant that there would be no
In in claiming the tax refund.
I;d the Social Services Tax Commissioner with
B itional information obtained from the Alberta
Qiy and from the dealer. The Commissioner,
Raining a legal opinion on the situation, dell) refund to the complainant the full amount of
ane had paid. The complainant wrote to state
it particularly appreciated my intervention as
fitiat a point of principle was involved.
B;al tax?
|irio law firm complained that the Ministry of
be was acting without authority in levying suc-
it duties with respect to an employee's pen-
In benefit.
ntter had been under dispute for several
pie estate assessed was that of an employee
B of a pension plan who had died while
ild in B.C. in 1974. The designated beneficia-
(Sformerwife, resident and domiciled in Alber-
3£iosition of the Ministry was that the plan was
asset for the purposes of the B.C. Succes-
Q:y Act. The position of the complainant was
U plan was not a B.C. asset.
48 reviewed the relevant files and did not find
p|e support for the Ministry's position. I con-
Enterprises, Inc.
eluded that the Ministry of Finance did not have the
authority to levy the succession duties in this particular case. The Ministry reconsidered its position and
then agreed. A refund was sent to the trustees of the
CS 80-021
Tax sale: property owner's nightmare
The complainant lost land in a tax sale. He told me
that this loss of land was a result of his reliance oh
misinformation provided by the Ministry of Finance.
He also said that several of the required procedures
for a tax sale were not properly followed.
The complainant stated that in September 1970, he
phoned the Office of the Surveyor of Taxes in victoria to check if there were any arrears in his taxes. The
complainant's recollection was that an office clerk
informed him that the current taxes had been paid
and that this conversation was confirmed in a subsequent letter. The current taxes had, in fact, been
paid with the proceeds of a tax sale. At the time of
the complainant's inquiry 11/2 months remained to
redeem the property, but according to the complainant, because no information was provided about the
tax sale, an attempt to redeem the property was not
A letter or other objective confirmation of the information conveyed in 1970 could not be found during
my staff's investigation. It appeared possible after
reviewing tax records of the time that, due to a
clerical oversight, only the fact that current taxes
were owing might have been mentioned and not the
additional fact that a tax sale had provided payment.
However, the legislative provisions for advertising
and notice to the registered owner concerning the
tax sale and redemption period had been followed.
The filings and notations of the tax sale in the relevant Land Registry Office had also been made.
The complainant raised a number of additional
points concerning the tax sale itself. These were for
the most part either dealt with and dismissed by the
judge who considered an action for indemnification
in 1972, or were not supported by the legislative
requirements laid out for tax sales.
I concluded that I could not recommend that compensation be paid by the Ministry. In the absence of
the letter described by the complainant, and without
 1$ TrigPfe /4NT W/4r tO FRgVENT
TH6 cSiCV&PtWI&MT FftLVU  T/1X1N6-
THE WIZARD OF ID by permission of Johnny Hart and Field Enterprises, Inc.
some objective indication of what information was
conveyed or what source was used to provide it, I
found that what actually occurred and whether the
Ministry was responsible for the loss remained
Given the fact that a taxpayer is responsible for the
payment of taxes every year, the fact that a formal
system of notices had been complied with and no
objective indication of the alleged misinformation of
1970 was available, I decided that the complaint
could not be substantiated.
CS 80-022
Proper receipts
The Ministry of Finance would not authorize a refund
of Social Services Tax paid by a nonresident purchaser of a car without a copy of the bill of sale
showing the amount of tax paid. The purchaser had
forwarded the proof of his eligibility for a refund, as
requested by the Ministry. Although he could give
other indications of the tax having been paid, he was
unable to provide an itemized bill of sale. As a resident of Saskatchewan, the purchaser had paid tax
on the purchase of the car there, and was referred to
me by the Saskatchewan Ombudsman.
On the basis of the information presented by my
assistant the Ministry made further inquiries and
authorized the refund.
The procedures which must be followed by adfhir
trative tribunals are not ordinarily matters of poli
but rather matters of statutory interpretation a
common law. The superior Courts have develop
procedural guidelines for such tribunals to folk
and these are commonly known as the rules of na
ral justice. While the rules which must be follow
vary, depending upon the function of the tribuna
appeared to me that the Courts of Revision p
formed a role closely analogous to that of a court
law; hence, the standard of procedural condi
which must be met by the Courts of Revision is vi
After reviewing the instructions provided to t
Courts of Revision by the Ministry of Rnajce
appeared to me that members of the Courts sho
be provided with further information about matt
of procedure. Subsequent to my investigation,
Ministry substantially revised and expanded the
instructional materials. Although I recorded this cc
plaint as resolved by the Ministry, procedural issi
continue to arise in complaints which involve t|
Courts of Revision, and it may be that further act
is required.
CS 80-023
Fairness in the courts
A landowner had appealed the assessment of her
property by the Assessment Authority of British Columbia to the Court of Revision. She claimed that the
Court had adjourned its first hearing of her case and
had failed to notify her of the time and place of the
second hearing. Although her concern about the
assessment of her property was eventually resolved
by the Assessment Appeal Board, she complained
to me that members of the Courts of Revision were
not properly informed respecting matters of
If one considers the importance of forests
British Columbia and the size and influence of
Ministry of Forests, it will probably come as a pie
ant surprise, to Ministry officials at least, that th'
are not all that many complaints lodged against I
Ministry. The Ministry is in the process of develop!
an approach to planning and managementithat
eludes public input, and this initiative may accoi^
in part, for the relatively small number of complain
have received. There are four general areas of c
cern for those who have complained:
 position to logging plans
me ate usually residents of an area who op-
se plans for logging, or plans to clear-cut an
la, or plans to use a particular mode of translation to remove timber. Recently there has
Si a fair amount of opposition expressed to
jBosals to log a central B.C. area. I have re-
ved several complaints to date but I am not
Reding with an investigation at this time be-
Me the Ministry is receiving public input on the
Her and has not as yet finalized its plans.
.satisfaction with Forestry
nagement practices
We complaints are similar to the above in that
ly express dissatisfaction with the manner in
i ch the Ministry is managing timber resources.
Isy focus on poor and inadequate replanting
[ctices, and on practices whereby Ministry
Iff permit logging operations to leave six- to
Im-foot stumps, or to leave a significant voile of felled timber on the site.
I criminatory enforcement of
i ulations and policy:
lommon theme running through a number of
I complaints is the image of the "little guy"
J3d against a "big guy", and the allegation that
I Ministry is taking the side of the "big guy" —
■ industry. It takes the form of complaints that
Klinistry gives preference in the awarding of
■ous types of licences to the large timber oper-
I's over the small business operator, or com-
Ints that affected parties are not provided with
nadequate means of involvement in forestry
pise general complaints about discrimination
Rinst small operators are difficult to investi-
QJ3. My assistants try to focus the complaints
psome specific action that is felt to be unfair
u that can be properly investigated.
iige management
H Ministry is also responsible for administering
K Crown Range and I have a number of corn-
Kits from the East Kootenays under investigate since November 1979 that deal with specific
ar general problems of range management.
a fire on private land. The Ministry had charged the
complainant $110 for its alleged attempt to control
the fire on the complainant's property. My investigator discussed the circumstances of the case with
Ministry staff involved in the efforts to control that
fire. It turned out that the Ministry staff had merely
paid two visits to the property to instruct the complainant to extinguish the fire. On no occasion did
the Ministry "attempt to control or extinguish" the
fire, other than to tell him to put it out.
As there was no evidence that the Ministry had billed
the complainant in accordance with the Forest Act,
it appeared that the cosfl incurred by the Crown
could not properly be charged to the complainant.
The Ministry agreed to withdraw the billing. Although
this was a valid complaint it was not necessary to
make any formal recommendations since the Ministry agreed to cancel the charge.
CS 80-025
Lost creek
A farmer who owns agricultural property adjoining a
Ministry of Forests' nursery stated that some 30
years ago the Ministry added about 2000 truckloads
of soil to the nursery site, and in doing so, had also
replaced a small natural creek with a subterranean
drain line. Within recent years his land has been
increasingly subject to flooding and consequently is
less useful for agricultural purposes. The complainant believed that the drain line had become blocked,
and the resulting poor drainage was responsible for
the flooding on his property.
A search of numerous old maps of the area failed to
confirm the existence of a creek on the site. However, a map was obtained which showed the location
of the drainage tile line. At my request the Ministry of
Forests agreed to break into the drain line and to
conduct tests to determine if it was blocked. The
tests showed that the drain line wasworking properly, although there were some indications that a portion of it may have been partially blocked at the
beginning of the tests. The complainant agreed that
he would be satisfied if the results of the test
showed the line was functioning properly.
I concluded that the drain line had not been blocked
as a result of the Ministry of Forests' activities, and
that the Ministry was not responsible for the flooding
of the complainant's property.
billing a fire by discussion
Umplainant stated that the Ministry of Forests
Hiroperly charged him for costs it had incurred
H rolling a fire on his property". The fire was, in
■ a small fire built by the complainant to
Oi of his garbage.
sS'est Act permits the Crown to bill individuals
-^s incurred in attempts to control or extinguish
CS 80-026
Conflicting use of Crown land
The Ministry of Fores added new conditions to the
complainant's Special Use Permit after it had been
renewed. The permit allowed the complainant to
construct a cabin on Crown land. The new clauses
indicated that there were mineral stakings on the
same site, and that the holder of the mineral stakings
 had the right to unobstructed use and occupation of
the site. The complainant believed the added conditions exposed his cabin to possible damage by the
holder of the mineral stakings.
There is no specific legislation pertaining to such
situations. However, in cases of conflicting uses of
Crown land, it is the policy of the Ministry of Forests
to give priority to the party having the longer established interest in the area. My assistant determined
that the Special Use Permit was first issued to the
complainant in 1948, and that it had been renewed
each year since then. The mineral stakings were
filed in 1976.
When my findings were brought to the Ministry's
attention, their staff accepted that the Ministry had
been in error in adding the new conditions to the
Special Use Permit. To rectify the situation, the Ministry issued a new permit without the offending
A substantial number of complaints were received against the Ministry of Health in 1980. Complaints against the Medical Services Commission
focussed on two areas — eligibility of persons for
medical coverage where they did not meet normal
statutory requirements such as residence, and eligibility for coverage both in and out of the Province for
unusual or unorthodox medical treatment.
A number of cases concerning the coverage of
unusual medical treatments have been carried over
to 1981 and I expect to make a general review of the
procedures used by the Commission in assessing
these claims.
A considerable number of complaints against the
Division of vital Statistics concern the discriminatory
impact of the Name Act and the Vital Statistics Act
on women. The Ministry has agreed to put some of
these problems before its Legislation Review Committee for reconsideration. There may be other issues I have to raise during 1981. The two statutes
probably could use a good general checkup to ensure that these provisions are more in tune with
today's concerns with equality between men and
In general the Ministry of Health's staff has
given my office a high degree of cooperation and
assistance. The Ministry's efforts at resolving complaints are encouraging.
CS 80-027
Air ambulances
In February, 1980 my office received a complaint that
Emergency Health Services would not pay fo,
medical evacuation from a remote camp iSf
Queen Charlotte Islands.
The complainant had not followed the correct pic
dures, yet circumstances justified calling for elfc
ation. My office then contacted Queen Chaffit
General Hospital who supported the complain™
writing to Emergency Health Services.
As a result the bill was paid and the complairB
CS 80-028
The complainant objected to a request that he pi
vide his social insurance number for use in hS
ployer's group health plan.
When contacted by my office, the Ministry aRi
that it would be possible to use another identifyii
number instead. I referred the complainant to tl
Director of Plan Operations to devise a differs
number. As this was one of several complaint!
received about the use of social insurance nurSer
also referred the complainant to the Privacy Coi
missioner of Canada who was then conducing
nation-wide study on the use of these numbers.
CS 80-029
A solemn affair?
A Marriage Commissioner refused to perform a mi
riage ceremony for a man and a woman who o
dared their intention to appear before him on Ocl
ber 31st attired in Muppet costumes. The betrothi
believed they had a right to be married in the cc
tume of their choice. When they were refused, thi
complained to my office. The man intended to a
pear as Miss Piggy, the woman as Kermit the Fro
The Marriage Act section 17 sets out the form whii
the Marriage Commissioner observes to solemnize
marriage contract. Does the Marriage Commission
have the authority to decline to solemnize a manias
on grounds of improper dress? The weight of Car
dian practice supports the view that he does, sim
first the phrase "the marriage may be contracte
extends to all acts of the Marriage Commis»
including the performance of the marriage cerem
ny, and second, the particular costumes chosen I
the complainants would make it impossible for tl
Marriage Commissioner to solemnize the occasii
in any ordinary sense of the word. There are i
written guidelines on norms of solemnizing a m;
riage, and the Marriage Commissioner's judgme
usually determines the matter.
I concluded that the Marriage Commissioner had n
acted improperly in refusing to solemnize the mi
riage. I advised the betrothed to seek out anoth
Marriage Commissioner in the vicinity who mig
have less conventional views of what is "solemn',
 rgyman who might be willing to solemnize the
lage. The unhappy couple was not able to find
Iffiiorized person willing to assist them if they
lared attired in their Muppet costumes. They
iled to get married in jeans. The Commissioner
Ihnized the marriage on October 31, 1980.
land health
ling woman suffered from profuse hair growth
mr face. She applied to the Medical Services
ifor payment of electrolysis treatment but her
IMt was rejected. She complained that this deal i was unfair.
Biaff found that the Medical Sen/ices Plan does
(Electrolysis surgery in extreme cases, pro-
It the treatment is administered in a physician's
pi i. The Plan had earlier received and approved
Bffitical request for coverage. On request a Plan
Hal re-examined the complainant's request, real-
HMe error and promptly wrote a letter to her
lm authorizing treatment with coverage under
la Ian.
Hg Ministry resolved the matter, I discontinued
7 vestigation.
* ng into medical coverage
■ft down under
biMmplainants had arrived in B.C. in the first
a of October 1980. They could not obtain Medi-
■gvices Plan coverage until January 1, 1981.
WiNere expecting the birth of their second child
in mid-December. The complainants thought they
would be granted coverage from December 1,1980,
because they had intended returning to B.C. from
Australia prior to October 1, 1980. These plans had
been disrupted by an Air New Zealand labour dispute. When they were refused coverage, they
complained to my office.
Under the Medical Services Act regulations, a resident of the Province is not eligible to become a
subscriber to the MSP until he has lived in the Province for a waiting period which ends two months
following the month in which he became a resident.
As the complainants had arrived in the first week of
October, they were not eligible for Plan coverage
until January 1, 1981. By regulation, a person can
appeal to the Medical Services Commission where
he or she has an unresolved difficulty with the Plan.
The Commission is given authority to decide whether the person is qualified as a subscriber.
On-being informed of our investigation results, the
Chairman of the Medical Services Commission
agreed to exercise his discretion in this case and
approved coverage for the complainant from December 1, 1980, provided they could demonstrate
their prior intention to return to the Province before
October 1, 1980. Two factors peculiar to this situation were instrumental in the Chairman's decision to
assist the complainants — they were unable to obtain extended coverage from Australia, and they
could not obtain private insurance to cover pregnancy-related illnesses.
The complaint was resolved by the Ministry. Medical
coverage became effective December 1, 1980.
CS 80-032
Seeing through M.S.P.
A woman had a serious eye problem. She had a type
of eye surgery performed in the U.S. which is not
available in Canada. An alternative type of surgery is
available in B.C. for the same condition, but the
complainant felt that the surgery available in the U.S.
would produce better results in her case. She applied to the Medical Services Commission to have it
cover the insurable portion of the cost of the surgery,
but her claim was rejected on the grounds that
alternative surgery was available in B.C. She
complained about this decision.
On receiving notification of my intention to investigate, the Medical Services Commission reconsidered its decision and decided to pay for the insurable portion of the surgery costs. Its reason for
changing the decision was that the complainant was
advised by medical practitioners and really believed
that the type of surgery she obtained in the U.S.
would produce better results in her case.
The complaint was resolved when the Medical Services Commission reconsidered and altered its
 CS 80-033
Hospital coverage beyond the mountains
A woman was unable to get the Ministry of Health
(Hospital Programs) to cover her hospital expenses.
She was a former B.C. resident who had moved to
Calgary and subsequently had given birth to a child
in a Calgary hospital.
Hospital insurance in B.C. is based on a residency
requirement. When a person leaves B.C., his/her
coverage under B.C. Hospital Programs continues
until the first day of the third month following the
move from B.C. to another province. My investigation revealed that our complainant had incurred her
hospital expenses within this period, and that Hospital Programs had therefore rejected her claim in
error. When I brought this error to the attention of the
Ministry, Hospital Programs promptly agreed to cover the woman's expenses.
CS 80-034
Birth certifiable?
The Division of Vital Statistics had refused to supply
a copy of the complainant's daughter's birth certificate because he was unable to provide the Division
with his former wife's maiden name. The father
complained that the Division was being
The Director of the Division of Vital Statistics has the
discretion to issue a birth certificate even when
some information which is normally required is not
available. When my assistant brought the problem to
his attention, the Director accepted that the complainant had made considerable efforts to obtain the
missing information, and agreed to issue the birth
CS 80-035
Getting some vital statistics
information on death
A woman wrote to the Director of Vital Statistics
requesting a copy of her mother's death certificate
and information concerning the cause of her mother's death. Two weeks later she received a response
stating that the Vital Statistics Act restricts the
information which may be released and that cause
of death information falls under such restrictions.
She was not given the information she requested,
nor was she given any advice on exceptions or
alternative methods to obtain the information. In
frustration, the woman hired a lawyer who was able
to get the information. She then complained to my
office about the fact that she was forced to retain a
lawyer and spend money to obtain information that
should have been made available to her when she
first made her request.
My investigation revealed that the information provided to the complainant by the Division of Vital
Statistics was incomplete, and therefore misleading.
The Vital Statistics Act provides exceptions m
would allow information on cause of death to t
given. The Act states that the information cajffl
released a) upon the authority in writing of the m
ty Minister or, b) upon the order of a judge oil
I found that the Division of Vital Statistics follH
the practice of not giving this information immegTffl
ly to persons requesting cause of death informfB
This appeared to me to be inappropriate anaBfi
quested that the Division change its practic<lH
viduals seeking information should be advisers!
the Deputy Minister may authorize release of tt
information concerning the cause of death. Inffll
tion, I suggested that my complainant be reir
bursed for the legal costs she had incurred in oeff
that information. The Division agreed to both rejp
mendations. Our complainant was compensat3i
her legal expenses and the practice of the DiBc
was changed.
Human Resources attracted a large number
complaints. A large portion of those cases close
were due to my decision to decline or discd™i|
investigations where a suitable untried admtetr
tive review mechanism was available to the cor
plainant. The Ministry has a reasonable appeal sy
tern in place that permits a review of a Minist
decision on social assistance by a tribunal; tffia
pellant may nominate one person of his choice to tt
three-member tribunal, and the tribunal's decision
honoured by the Ministry.
An investigation of the Ministry's praOTgl
informing those who had an application denied or
benefit curtailed, showed serious shortcomings £
discussed below in complaint summary "Steerir
recipients of assistance through the bureaucracy
The Ministry agreed to improve its information flo
to those affected by Ministry decisions.
Complaints against the Ministry of Human R
sources fall into four broad categories:
1. Income assistance programs
Approximately two-thirds of the complaints r
ceived against the Ministry of Human Resourcf
deal with one of the Ministry's income assistant
programs (GAIN, HPIA, SAFER or Pharmacart
These complaints generally are about delay
processing applications, denial of assistance f
reasons the complainant feels are unfair, or tl
inadequacy of a benefit (for example, rates f
shelter costs that do not realistically reflect act
al costs).
Bit one-fifth of our complaints directed at this
Bstry concern childreh-in-care. Individual fos-
BDarents and natural parents have presented
Beral complaints. For example, the Ministry has
fused to inform them where a former foster
ild was, or has removed a child from his natural
me without cause. We have also had several
mplaints from adults who were adopted as
&en and are seeking access to information
Bheir natural parenfs:.-!;
»atment programs
feral complaints were received about the
Klequacy of Ministry treatment programs, par-
marly programs for handicapped children,
ge ranged from concerns about staffing at
radlands to the lack of facilities for autistic
la/eral personnel-related complaints were reived, both Ministry staff complaining about
I ir working conditions, and complaints from the
blic about the treatment they received from
Irotry staff.
Iiroad and recurring problem with income as-
lance complaints is that citizens often have a
liimal understanding of the benefits the Minis-
loffers and/or their eligibility for those benefits.
Isy often do not understand or trust the Minis-
Is appeal process. Thus, many individuals
BBDlain to the Ombudsman as a way of verify-
I whether they are indeed receiving the bene-
f they are entitled to by law.
I worth noting that the Ministry, both executive
II line staff, have been very cooperative and
i has facilitated complaint resolution.
Stop total bureaucracy care
oan on social assistance complained about the
muate amount of money she was receiving
■lie Ministry of Human Resources.
His not able to manage all her expenses on her
H income. She also said that because she had
■ffl'w" on her medical card, she would have to
II' her glasses and dentures herself. The wom-
Hler of complaint was not very clear about her
ain or what action she requested. She had
Heparated from her husband for about a year,
U brief marriage.
Hfy the problem(s), one of my assistants con-
t| the complainant and the federal Old Age
Hy office. It emerged that if she had been
separated for one full year when she reapplied in
April for the Old Age Pension she would be considered single. That meant that the complainant had
approximately four months to wait for an increase in
her federal pension.
In the meantime, however, the woman was entitled
to some supplement through GAIN for Seniors, to
bring her up to the provincial minimum income. It
was found that she had begun the procedure for
application at one point, but had become somewhat
confused. My assistant arranged for an appointment for her with the local Ministry of Human Resources office, where a worker helped her complete
the necessary forms. My assistant later followed up
to make sure she was in receipt of the monie||||
Also, the complainant was advised that because of
her marriage she had ceased to qualify for welfare
assistance in obtaining glasses and dentures.
(Hence the loss of the "w" on her medical card.)
However, the complainant was again referred to the
local Ministry of Human Resources office to check if
the District Supervisor could authorize some assistance for such expenses, based on her low income.
She was also given some direction regarding how to
handle her name change during her current divorce
proceedings, and was referred back to her lawyer
with this information.
As a result of this assistance, the complainant's
problem was alleviated to the extent that she was
provided with provincial funds to supplement her
income until she became eligible for the increased
federal rate as a single person. The complaint was
thus resolved through the Ministry's actions and no
recommendation was required.
CS 80-037
Services to the handicapped
A woman complained that her epileptic daughter
had not been given adequate financial assistance
by the Ministry of Human Resources. The daughter
had returned to school to upgrade skills and she had
failed to qualify for U.I.C. benefits or Human Resources' Handicapped Persons' Income Allowance.
The daughter's $2,000 savings had run out.
The Ministry of Human Resources acted in accordance with Handicapped Persons' Income
Allowance guidelines in refusing benefits. However,
as part of the investigation, my assistant;
approached Community Vocational Rehabilitation
Services of the Ministry of Health. The Vocational
Rehabilitation of Handicapped Adults Programv
through the Community Vocational Rehabilitation
Sen/ices, will pay for person's tuition and books,
and provide a maintei .nee allowance and transportation allowance, if needed. Each application from a
handicapped adult is considered on its individual
The Ministry of Health agreed to provide financial
 assistance while the daughter is a student. She now
receives financial assistance and is able to pursue
her studies.
CS 80-038
A Christmas emergency
The complainant had her Income Assistance benefits terminated four days before Christmas. She appealed this decision and the Ministry district office
refused to reinstate her benefits while her appeal
was considered.
My investigator reviewed the provisions of the Guaranteed Available Income for Need Act and Regulations, and found that where a person appeals a
decision to terminate or reduce income assistance
benefits, those benefits shall be reinstated on the
terms and at the rate existing prior to the decision
being appealed, and until the appeal has been decided. My investigator contacted the Acting Supervisor and brought these provisions to his attention.
The complainant's benefits were reinstated in accordance with the statutory regulation.
CS 80-039
Saving teeth
The complainant, an older woman on income assistance, had made two requests through her dentist to
the Health Care Division of the Ministry of Human
Resources, for special dental care and had been
refused permission to have the work done. She was
afraid she would lose some teeth if the work were
not done soon. The complainant felt she may have
been refused dental care because of her age.
My assistant found it was not clear exactly what
work could be done under the heading of "special
care". It appeared, from inquiries, that the extensive
root canal work might not be successful and that the
use of gold in crowns, as proposed by her dentist,
was never approved, regardless of the age of the
patient. The Health Care Division had wanted alternative plans or suggestions from the dentist. My
office arranged for the dentist to provide these in a
new application.
In the meantime, the complainant's Financial Assistance Worker recommended a local dental clinic,
where it was later confirmed that the work would be
carried out at little or no cost to the patient.
CS 80-040
Battling bureaucracy can be like pulling teeth
A man telephoned my office claiming to be in pain
because he could not obtain the specialized dental
treatment he felt he needed (through the Ministry of
Human Resources G.A.I.N. program). He subse
quently added other complaints about the Ministry,
including a general complaint that his worker did noi
treat him properly.
The Ministry worker was unaware that a righW
review existed against a rejection of this type njf
assistance. The worker promised to pursuaH
My staff followed up a few weeks later andfli
complainant was in a much happier frame of mind.
His teeth had been fixed, his other problems had
been attended to, and most important to him, he felt
that the Ministry treated him like a human being.
CS 80-041
Straightening out the problem
A woman on G.A.I.N, handicapped assistaR
complained that the Ministry would not providejE
with orthodontic treatment to correct a botherswl
The complainant had previously appealed this decision to the "tribunal" level within the Ministry, bufHfli
no success. My investigation discovered that ^»
mation presented to this tribunal by the Ministry hac
been erroneous. She had a valid complaint.
A new tribunal hearing was held and this tirr^^
decision was made in the woman's favour.
CS 80-042
Lost in the shuffle
A resident of the Lower Mainland complainetMil
she had not been paid for services provided to the
Ministry over a period of several months. She hac
been invited by Ministry workers to set up a bee
subsidy operation in her home.
A contract was signed by the woman and witnesser
by a social worker who dispatched it to the Regippa
Manager's office. There it mysteriously disappeare(
from sight only to resurface several months^? |
when it was returned unsigned by regional officiali
to the witnessing social worker's office. In the mean
time, the woman's home was utilized by the Minjsji)
as a bed subsidy resource but she was not paid fo
this service. Then the Ministry decided that paymen
could not be made as the contract had never beer
The complaint was substantiated. My intervener
convinced the Ministry that they had an obligation t<
the woman who had acted in good faith. C|pe
quently, a sum acceptable to the woman was negoti
ated and payment made. The complainant was de
lighted with the result and stated that when she wen
into her "battle" with the Ministry she felt alone, bu
once the Ombudsman's Office entered the picture
"It made me feel not lost in the shuffle".
an providing a service for the Ministry advised
jyments had been delayed by three months.
Hstry worker had submitted the claim for
lint on the wrong form. A lengthy argument
nsued between the local office and the con-
js office as to the appropriateness of the form.
[3d out that even the wrong form contained all
lormation that was necessary to make pay-
lind that a party who was providing a service
J Ministry should not be made to suffer "finan-
jjvhile the Ministry engaged in internal wran-
Ifhe woman had a valid complaint. It was recti-
lien the Ministry paid up.
Ifflstry accepted my view that it had a respon-
I to ensure prompt payment even when its
II procedures had not been strictly followed by
Ii workers, and undertook to ensure that in
lit would settle such problems internally with-
jiating additional costs to the public.
furing a complainant
Ig single mother who was receiving income
pnce, made a request in March, 1980 for an
Bhal $60 per month to cover the cost of Pam-
| r her daughter who had dermatitis. First she
ated me to complain about the length of time it
liking the Ministry to come to a decision on
pr she was eligible for this special allowance.
lid a half months had elapsed since the re-
H/vas initiated. The delay was caused by a
Ino obtain an appropriate medical report from
H:tor. The doctor had already sent two letters
U/linistry but it claimed that the letters did not
HEufficient information.
s:f recommended immediate action and the
ie_ation for the additional benefits was granted
rtsceipt of a third letter from the doctor. The
ran was to allow retroactive payment to the
pn initial application, with a further review one
MDrior to the expiry date in September.
afnplainant then approached my office a sec-
iie since the review did not take place as
iiii:d. The woman again had a valid complaint,
pf again contacted the Ministry which then
"it'i a further three-month allowance.
bid out that this problem would recur at the
tef each three-month period. The Ministry then
Mid that it would send a directive providing
id, supply of Pampers continue for the time that
"Id continued to suffer from dermatitis.
Is got buried
Ijjy cancer patient complained that his social
liEfused to meet with him, that some of his
medical needs were not receiving proper attention,
and that the Ministry was not paying some related
medical bills.
The man's worker had become ill and somehow the
complainant's problem had been placed in a file and
overlooked. My staff brought this to the attention of
the Ministry. Once the Ministry was made aware of
the situation, another financial assistance worker
met with the complainant and authorized the payment for a wheelchair, as well as travel costs related
to treatments he required.
CS 80-046
No door, no assistance
A single mother living in the home of her parents
complained to me when she was denied a shelter
allowance by the Ministry.
It had been suggested by her worker that she was
not eligible for such an allowance because she
lacked a separate entrance to her portion of the
house. My staff reviewed the policy manual and
discovered that the woman was, in fact, entitled to a
shelter allowance.
This mother had a valid complaint which was rectified quickly when I brought this information to the
attention of the worker, and the shelter allowance
was granted promptly.
CS 80-047
Communications gap
A recently unemployed worker complained that the
Ministry had advised him wrongly and sent him on a
runaround. He had sought assistance from the Ministry when the Unemployment Insurance Commission was unable to provide benefits to him because
of employer delay. Although the Ministry supplied
assistance, it insisted that the worker return to the
local U.I.C. office and request a monitored payment
cheque: an emergency cheque which could be issued by local U.I.C. managers within four hours of
request. The complainant tried this and was advised
by the federal agency that no such system existed.
Since income assistance had been granted, the only
issue at stake was the accuracy of the Ministry
Policy Manual which provided information about the
U.I.C. monitored payment system to Human Resources staff members. After discussions with
U.I.C, I brought this problem to the attention of the
Ministry which ascertained that although such a system did in fact exist, the information in the policy
manual as to how the system functioned was
The man had a valid complaint which was rectified
when the Ministry undertook to correct its field
 CS 80-048
The letter got lost
A former B.C. Government ward wrote from another
province to complain about a lengthy delay. He had
written to the Ministry to obtain information pertaining to his birth and upbringing in British Columbia.
Three months later he still had received no reply or
The complainant's letter to the Ministry was apparently misplaced prior to being acknowledged. It was
several weeks before it found its way back to the unit
which had the expertise to answer it.
The man had a valid complaint about unreasonable
delay. It was rectified after discussion between my
staff and the Ministry. The information was
CS 80-049
Debt collection
An elderly widow was confronted with having to
repay a large overpayment. The Ministry was
recovering this at a rate of $50 a month from her
income assistance.
My staff pointed out to the woman that she had the
right to appeal the Ministry's action to a review tribunal, and arranged for her to obtain legal assistance.
The woman had not been aware of this opportunity.
A tribunal was established and, on the basis of
hardship, it reduced the repayment to $10 a month.
CS 80-050
Steering recipients of assistance
through the bureaucracy
The complainant alleged that an allowance had
been unfairly terminated after three years.
He had not appealed the decision as he was unaware of the appeal rights available to him. The
Ministry had failed to advise the complainant of the
right to appeal the decision although it was their
stated policy that such advice should be given.
Investigation of this complaint showed that benefits
had been terminated in accordance with Ministry
policy, and that aspect of the complaint therefore
was not substantiated.
A review of the Ministry's policy manual indicated
that it was unclear whether appeal advice should be
given orally or in writing. The Ministry did not have a
ciear policy regarding the process by which people
zould be advised of their rights to appeal a decision
to deny or terminate benefits. My staff were advised
that the policy of advising a recipient or applicant
that they have a right to appeal was not uniformly
applied and depended on the particular Ministry
office involved. My staff contacted the Welfare
Branches of several other provincial governments to
ascertain their procedures in advising income assis-
-Hied I
tance recipients of appeal rights. I then suorl	
Ministry with precedents from other jurisdictH
I made recommendations which were accepted
the Ministry. It agreed to develop a standard fc
"notification of appeal rights" to be includedln
letters of discontinuance or rejection of inoorffl
sistance. The Ministry also agreed to post a.jfl
describing the right of appeal in the waiting room
all district offices. In addition the Ministry agreed
describe appeal rights in a revised pamphlet cov
ing their rights to income assistance. LastMl
Ministry was in the process of devising a newap
cation form for income assistance and agreed
describe the right of appeal on that initial applicati
form. At the time of my recommendation the mHs
was in the process of developing an appeal kit, a
as a result, my recommendations were particula
timely in assisting the Ministry to revise its policf a
procedures in this area. This case represents a*go
example of the concern which this Ministft
shown in ensuring that the concept of adminisMi
fairness is applied as fully as possible to recSj
of income assistance.
CS 80-051
The cheque went missing
An individual complained to my office on behalf ol
fifteen-year-old child who had not received her i
come assistance for a period of two montnajp
situation was complicated by the recent death of h
handicapped father.
After numerous calls to various district officii
staff were able to trace the missing cheques,
turned out that the assistance for one month hi
been issued on the cheque of her late father, ar
that no assistance had been issued for the secor
The child had a valid complaint which the Minis!
remedied very quickly: it issued a cheque for tl
missing month. I greatly appreciated the Ministry
speedy resolution of the problem.
CS 80-052
Reuniting mother and daughter
The Legal Assistance Society in Saskatchewan co
tacted my office on behalf of one of their «jpl
They had unsuccessfully tried to help the complai
ant re-establish contact with her mother, so that si
could assist in caring for her. The Socie
complained that it had contacted the Ministrap i
attempt to locate the mother, but was refused inf(
mation on the mother's whereabouts.
My office contacted the social worker in the Minisi
and found that she had attempted to visit the coi
plainant's mother in order to communicate tl
daughter's request, but because the mother w;
terrified of people, she would not answer the do
pal worker agreed to try again to communi-
w\ the mother and this time was successful,
se the Ministry was legally required to main-
b confidentiality of records, the complaint was
bstantiated. However as a result of the con-
le mother agreed to see her daughter, and this
Htion was given to the Legal Assistance Soci-
/vas arranged that the daughter in Saskatch-
Siuld contact the representative of the Minis-
Etly. The cooperation of the Ministry in making
Bon possible was greatly appreciated by the
anant and my staff.
ng a trade
ian wrote to me from Alberta to complain
Ii decision of the B.C. Apprenticeship Branch
Refused to grant her a Certification.
Bving in British Columbia, she had completed
Bidemic requirements and three-quarters of
■>-year time requirement to achieve certifica-
lan auto painter. A move by her family took her
Irta where she continued in a related trade
Iticeship. After completing sufficient appren-
I) time, she sought recognition of her Alberta
Ince to obtain British Columbia Certification
I; which she had been working. She was even
feid to return to Britjsh Columbia for a short
lid demonstrate her ability to an employer who
bhen recommend Certification. The Appren-
Bi Branch, however, required that she return to
I^Bnce for a six-month period.
t. / staff discussed the matter with the Ministry,
aiplaint was resolved when the Ministry indi-
Bhat it would be possible for the woman to
9) British Columbia for a short time to allow an
lifer to evaluate her work, and if it met their
lads, they would provide the Certificate of
Hint of wages
biloyer complained that the Board of Industrial
tt* s had reached a decision which he believed
hb if air, without him having had the opportunity
Heard. He said he had received from the
pt of Labour a certificate stating that he owed
id: his employees certain sums of money as
Biiiivages. Along with this certificate, he had
hijeived a letter stating that he had eight days
im to present evidence and make representa-
fn the Board of Industrial Relations. Upon re
ceiving these documents, the employer's immediate reaction was that a decision that he owed these
sums of money had already been made by the
Board. He assumed this because the eight-day period had expired by the time he received the Board's
My assistant discovered that the Board of Industrial
Relations had not yet reached a decision on this
matter, and that the employer would still have an
opportunity to submit evidence and make representations to the Board. While this rejasolved the problem
as far as the employer was concerned, I wrote to the
Board expressing my concern over both the language used in the certificate sent to employers, and
the fact that the eight-day period may, in some
cases, be insufficient to enable the employer to
submit evidence and make representations to the
Board. In my view, the right to be heard is meaningful
only where adequate and timely notice prior to the
hearing is assured, and where these rights are adequately explained to the recipient of such notices. 1
gave the IVIinistry eight days from date of mailing to
respond to my criticism. The Ministry could not keep
up the pace!
The Ministry replied that the certificate forms and
the covering letters would be revised in order to
avoid any possible misunderstandings such as had
arisen in this case. The Ministry also advised that
new legislation was being prepared which, if accepted, would substantially ameliorate the current provisions of the statute with respect to the period during
which an employer could submit evidence and make
A substantial proportion of the complaints received about the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing fell into two categories. The first concerned the
disposition of Crown land. A number of these complaints involved the apparent inconsistencies and
changes in Crown land programs and policies, and
delay in the processing of applications. The second
major area of complaints concerned the eligibiljtffi|
under the Home Purchase Assistance Program.
Other complaints received covered a wide assortment of issues, ranging from the delay in dealing
with private land holdings in Part III of the Pacific Rim
National Park, to questions about the Mobile Homei,
Registry requirements. Ministry staff cooperated
fully during my investigations, and a significant number of complaints were resolved through the assistance of the Ministry.
 CS 80-055
Unreasonable delay
After waiting for four and a half years to have the
Ministry of Lands, Parks & Housing decide on his
application for a parcel of Crown land, a man
complained to my office about unreasonable delay
in processing his application.
The complainant had applied for the land in October
of 1976. In May, 1977, the Director of Land Management wrote to him, stating that a decision on his
application was anticipated within the next month.
Four months later the area Land Manager wrote
stating that there were some delays but that he
would be offered a site. My staff was informed by
the Ministry that further delays had been experienced, and that the complainant would not be offered a site until 1981.
Ministry officials claimed that much of the delay was
caused by changing organizational structures and
policy revisions with respect to the disposition of
Crown land. I believe that a delay might be considered unreasonable whenever service to a member
of the public is postponed improperly, and unnecessarily, or for some irrelevant reason. Hence, lengthy
delays caused by a shortage of staff, administrative
reorganization, or policy revision are unreasonable. If
Government requires that an individual seek its approval in particular circumstances, it must ensure
that sufficient resources are allocated to administer
such procedures expeditiously. If ministries wish to
reorganize their personnel, they must ensure that
such reorganization does not unnecessarily impede
service to the public. And, if policies are to be reexamined and revised, such changes should be
made quickly, or alternatively, the previous policy
ought to remain in effect until replaced. After reviewing the relevant events in this case I concluded that,
of the expected four and a half year delay before the
complainant would be able to occupy the land, almost two years amounted to unreasonable delay.
One of the particularly difficult issues in complaints
of this nature is to find a remedy appropriate in the
circumstances. However, the common law provided
some guidance. In successful civil cases, the Courts
attempt, usually by way of pecuniary damages, to
return the plaintiff to the position he would have
been in, had the unlawful act not occurred. In this
case, while it was impossible to roll back the 22
months of unreasonable delay, it was possible to
prevent the complainant from suffering any direct
pecuniary loss as a result of such delay.
I recommended that the complainant be charged
the 1979 price when he finally received his lot in
1981. This complaint was substantiated and the Ministry accepted my recommendation.
CS 80-056
Improper conduct of a civil servant?
A man complained that more than ten years ago a
■ l
civil sen/ant had used his position improperly
acquire Crown land for himself and a relativefS
had thus deprived our complainant of an opportun
to acquire this land.
My assistant carried out an extensive investigatii
and review of the material available at the Minism
Finance and the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Hot.
ing concerning the lease applications in questio
Since these events occurred more than a decaf,
ago, I was unable to find conclusive evidenfl
support such a serious allegation. Where the aH
tion borders on questions of criminal behavS
high standard of proof is required. Since contS
investigation appeared unlikely to provide fflB(
clarification, the investigation was discontinue
CS 80-057
Squatters' rights
A family living in northern British Columb
complained that the Ministry had been acting He
sonably and unfairly by not allowing them to obta
title to Crown land which they had occupied for tl
previous 10 years. A number of others had at
squatted in the area and, for several years the Mini
try had been attempting to legalize their resicSt
by establishing a subdivision and selling the lots on
Crown grant basis. The complainant's dispute wi
the Ministry concerned the exact location oatl
The family had constructed a log house next to
creek and wanted the Ministry to survey a lot fofflif
purchase around the existing residence. Howew
since it was against the Ministry's policy to gra
Crown land or allow subdivisions in areas which ha\
a potential for flooding, the Ministry wanted the far
ily to re-establish their residence on higher groun
Since the family did not want to relocate, the Mini
try's last and "final" offer was a Licence of Occup
tion for their existing residence to be renewed ann
ally at the Ministry's discretion. The familyBB
worried that this proposal did not provide them wi
adequate security of tenure.
My staff interviewed the complainants and the Mini
try officials separately to clarify the contentious
sues and then brought them together in an attemj
to resolve their differences. The mediation wassu
cessful and an agreement was reached with bo
parties making compromises. The Ministry offere
the complainants a five-year licence to occupy the
current residence in exchange for the complainant
agreement to purchase a nearby parcel of Crow
land and to relocate there by the end of the five-ye,
period. This satisfied the complainants' desire
secure tenure to a piece of land in the area wijtioil
having to vacate their present house on short noticf
and also met the Ministry's need to bring the fajfily
occupation of the land into conformity with the lav
onsideration under aggravation
her living in northern British Columbia alleged
1 Ministry had improperly denied her applica-
I" an agricultural lease over a parcel of Crown
[facent to her present ranch. This complaint
netted to me by the Deregulation Branch of
nistry of Finance which had unsuccessfully
pted to resolve it prior to my taking office.
Eieriod of 10 years my complainant had alien-
[pvernment officials by ignoring many rules
|d to control ranching in the area. She had
ffiimerous applications for agricultural leases,
nd for the present application had been in-
fd by a government agrologist on several oc-
§ but the Ministry rejected the application on
as that the parcel did not contain at least 50
tt arable land.
led a professional agrologist to inspect the
m examine earlier reports on the land's agri-
I quality. He advised that the land was suffi-
I arable to  meet  the  Ministry's  minimum
II requirements. Under the Canada Land In-
BBystem the parcel was rated as predomi-
ISass 5, but improvable to class 4 with irriga-
land of class 4 rating is considered arable and
lease more than 50 percent of the land was
[able to class 4.) There was, however, some
;>n whether there would be sufficient water
i le to irrigate the land.
Iimended to the Ministry that it grant the com-
lit an agricultural lease for the Crown land in
|>n, but that the lease be commensurate in
bith the amount of irrigation water available,
mstry accepted my recommendation on the
Wr\ that the complainant obtain a water
J for irrigation purposes and purchase a small
lif land on which she had built her house, in
Klegalize her occupation of it.
r wait for a rejection
s complained that the Ministry unfairly denied
iplication for an agricultural lease. The com-
■a in addition to his concerns about the denial
application, alleged that there was excessive
yn the part of the Ministry in its handling of his
Ktion. The land in question had been the sub-
Jin agricultural lease issued in 1967 to another
■ al; however, that lease had been repos-
p by the Crown because of default in pay-
BPresent Ministry policy requires that land be
ffiian 50 percent arable to be subject to an
aiural lease, and that applications for such
ppe referred to other Crown agencies for pos-
& ijections. The land applied for did not meet
ajjiistry's present minimum arability require-
WWhen the 1967 agricultural lease had been
Hthe minimum requirements were less strin
gent. In addition the Parks Branch had recently assessed the land as having a high recreation potential
and had placed it within a park reserve with the
intention of developing it as funds became available
in the future. Assessment of the land's agricultural
potential by the Ministry and the assessment of its
recreation potential by the Parks Branch were verified and this aspect of the complaint was not
There had been a delay of 11 months by the Ministry
in adjudicating this application; however, the Ministry assured me that it now attempts to process
applications within 120 days. While the complaint
about the delay in the processing of the application
was substantiated, the Ministry had already taken
steps to correct this deficiency. I decided not to
make any further recommendations concerning the
delay in view of the Ministry's assurance regarding
its speedier adjudication of applications.
CS 80-060
Waiting while the rules change
A resident of the Province complained that the Ministry would not honour his request to be allowed to
lease a particular lot in a district subdivision. He
further protested the Ministry's delay in processing
his application.
Originally the lot in question was part of a residential
subdivision, and the lots were made available on a
lease to purchase basis. At the time of the complainant's application the Ministry was rethinking its policy on leasing land, and this resulted in a lengthy
delay. It was ultimately decided to sell the lots instead of leasing them. Several expressions of interest on the available lots had been received by the
Ministry. In fact one request for the particular lot in
which the complainant had expressed interest had
been received prior to the complainant's
Where there are several requests for specific properties, Ministry policy is to award the right to obtain
the land on a lottery basis. The lottery on the lots in
this subdivision was limited to those who had expressed prior interest. Happily for the complainant,
his name was the first drawn in the lottery and he
acquired the property he had long sought.
CS 80-061
Underground communication
The president of a federation of caving groups
complained that the Ministry was discriminating in
favour of other caving interests while developing a
provincial policy respecting caves and' caving. He
alleged that his group had been excluded from full
and equal participation.
In 1979 the Outdoor Recreation Branch undertook to
coordinate an inter-ministerial project to develop
 recommendations for a government policy on the
conservation and recreational use of caves. During
the first stage of the project, government agencies
and non-governmental organizations concerned
with spelunking in the Province were invited to submit briefs which would be used to develop a "discusjg
sion paper". Although the Ministry needed the participation of the federation to complete its work, a
communication impasse had developed which
brought the project to a standstill as far as the
complainant was concerned.
In an effort to bring the parties to a point of agreement, my investigator discussed the matter with
each party separately over a period of weeks, and
then arranged a face-to-face mediation session at
my office where they were finally able to come to
terms with their differences. As a result of this process, the parties subsequently exchanged letters of
understanding in which they committed themselves
to working together in a cooperative spirit.
CS 80-062
Family First Home Grant
A man complained that his application for a Family
First Home Grant was refused. The Ministry of
Lands, Parks and Housing rejected the application
on the grounds that the applicant had previously
owned an unregistered mobile home which, they
asserted, was a first home for the purposes of the
Home Purchase Assistance Act.
The Home Purchase Assistance Act, section 13
states that an applicant qualifies where he "has
never owned or purchased by way of an agreement
for sale, a residence other than the residence in
respect of which the application is made".
Close examination of the statute and regulations
clearly showed that the applicant's unregistered mobile home resting upon a trailer pad in a mobile park
is not a "residence" as defined in section 1: "a self-
contained dwelling unit of a kind referred to in section 7 or of a kind prescribed by regulations". Second 20(2) of the regulations prescribes as
residences only mobile homes registered in the Mobile Home Registry, and only for the purpose of
loans, not grants.
Since the applicant's mobile home was not a residence as defined by regulation and since his application met the requirements of the Act in all other
respects, I recommended to the Ministry that the
Ministry's Eligibility Committee review the application, keeping in mind these considerations. Ten days
later the Committee accepted my interpretation and
approved the application.
I also enquired into the feasibility of the Ministry reevaluating other applications from former owners of
unregistered mobile homes which had been rejected on the same erroneous grounds. The Ministry
produced convincing evidence that it would be ad-
ministratively impractical to check manual™
18,841 applications received to July 1,1980 to M}
mine whether past mobile home ownership was j
sole ground for rejection. The Ministry did prov I
assurances that henceforth the Eligibility Commit i
would not reject grant applications on the bJi
this former erroneous interpretation.
Any member of the public whose application
Home Purchase Assistance Grant was turnedffl
because of prior ownership of an unregistertfl
bile home, and who did not obtain other befffi
under the program, may now wish to resubrffl
application for the grant.
CS 80-063
Home Purchase Grant
The Eligibility Committee of the Ministry of Lane
Parks and Housing rejected a $1,000.00 Home Pi
chase Assistance Grant application for VhWm
chase of a condominium by a former B.C. apartme
dweller returning to the Province after a four-ye
absence abroad, on the grounds that the appjci
failed to meet the program residence requirefnenl
The Home Purchase Assistance Act restric
grants to persons continuously resident in the Pre
ince at least two years immediately prior t]!roi
chase; to Canadian citizens who are native Briti
Columbians, or to Canadian citizens who at any tin
ordinarily resided in B.C. for five consecutives|i
The applicant took the view that in his case tl
interpretation and application of the resident i
quirements by the Ministry were contrary to the tn
intent of the Act. Further, he felt that the Hon
Purchase Assistance Act residency requirement
actual physical residence in the Province is fanmo
stringent than that contained in other provincial
utes, and that Canadian case law recognized seco
dary factors which suggest residence and a cle
intent to resume residence as tantamount to phy
ical residence for entitlement purposes
The discussions of the Legislative Assembly relatir
to this statute (Hansard of June 15, 1976) did n
clarify the legislative intent of the residency requir
ment beyond the statutory provisions. Resides
requirements under different provincial statuti
raise separate issues. Different statutes use varyir
conditions of residence for a variety of prograrr
While greater uniformity might be desirable toavc
confusion and inconsistencies, the administraTO
one program cannot be faulted for failing to adhe
to residency requirements of another provinc|||i
gram. Finally, Canadian case law stresses that phy
ical presence in a territory and the maintenance ol
house or lodgings available for occupation are tl
key tests of residency. "Ordinary residence" meai
that the person has his ordinary or usual place
living in that province, and that he lives witl^ tl
Province more than he does elsewhere.
 uded that the applicant met none of the eligi-
Sts for residency under this program, and the
ffiemselves were reasonable. The Ministry
Sirrectly in denying the application and the
ant was not substantiated.
&, in the course of my investigation other
Brative shortcomings were identified. I rec-
ided that eligibility conditions for Home Pur-
Kssistance Grants be enumerated for the
jty Committee to consider and that they be
jH   in   official   brochures   describing   the
1980 I received a number of complaints in-
j the Office of the Inspector of Municipalities,
■jmplaints were about delay and incomplete
laations on the part of the Inspector. I think it is
lant to note that during 1980, an Inspector of
llSlities was appointed and, for the first time, it
[separate appointment to that of the Deputy
IE of Municipal Affairs. Until now, the Deputy
lir has also been the Inspector of Municipal-
Would hope that with this new appointment,
lime and resources will be available to the
Itor to investigate complaints about municipal-
lid regional districts.
Iroffice has also received complaints relating
liicipal boundary extensions. The Sayward
leviewed below, is one noteworthy example.
1jht to be heard—boundary extension
pillage of Sayward
I Although my final actions on this complaint
3 ace in 1981, I have decided to include the
BJjmmary and comment in the present report
ie the investigation had been completed in
ind because of the importance of the princi-
«;mber 1979 I received a complaint from a
ipf citizens living in and around the village of
Wd, near the northern end of Vancouver Island,
aveeks earlier, as a result of Order in Council
ft the area of the village had been increased to
aan three times its former size. Of the citizens
ltd lived within the village boundaries prior to
»msion, none had opposed the change. How-
i-l y-one persons who had resided in the former
Sirea were now included within the new
enries, and for various reasons most of them
0:n strongly opposed to being absorbed into
'fllge. (Any mention of "residents" in this sum-
Wefers   to   this   group.)   These   residents
complained of unfair treatment by the Minister of
Municipal Affairs.
My investigation revealed that the village council
had originally applied to the Mjjglfrv for a boundary
extension in a letter dated April 18,1979, mentioning
very briefly four reasons for the request, all involving
the village's financial difficulties and the need for a
broader tax base. The Ministry advised the council
of the procedures to follow, including advertising of
the proposal in a local newspaper as required by s.
21(2) of the Municipal Act, R.S.B.C. 1960, c.255
(now R.S.B.C. 1979, c.290, s.22(2)). The advertisements, which appeared in July 1979 in the "Upper
Islander", described the proposed boundary extension, but did not discuss the reasons for it. They
invited the residents in the extension area to inform
the Minister if they objected to the inclusion of their
properties within the municipality. (Note that residents who were tenants therefore appeared to be
excluded from this invitation to object, and that there
was no opportunity to learn of the reasons for the
proposed extension, or for the presentation of arguments in support of objections.)
Most of the resident property owners objected by
writing individual letters, or through a petition to the
Minister, and their letters were acknowledged. (In
one case, a letter of objection was acknowledged as
though it were a letter supporting the boundary
extension.) The residents were aware of s.22(4) of
the Municipal Act, which states:
"If the minister is of the opinion that there is
substantial opposition to the proposed extension
by the residents in the area proposed to be included, he may direct that the question of including the area sought to be included in the municipality be submitted in the form prescribed by him
to the residents of the area for assent."
Having demonstrated what they felt was overwhelming opposition to the proposal, these residents fully expected that the Minister would exercise his discretion so as to provide them with an
opportunity to vote on the matter. The Minister, however, although he recognized that there was "substantial opposition" to the proposal, decided not to
order a vote. In line with his policy of encouraging
such boundary extensions, he made a recommendation to the Cabinet, and the Order in Council was
passed on November 9,1979. The residents of the
affected area were not informed of any of these
In considering all my findings, I was disturbed by
several aspects of the procedures used by the Ministry. For instance, the reasons favouring the bound-1
ary extension had not been thoroughly documented
and verified, and the thod of calculating opposition to the proposal appeared to be unrelated to the
wording of the Act, as quoted above. However, the
heart of the problem was, in my opinion, the lack of
administrative fairness towards the objectors. On
November 5,1980, after the exchange of much cor-
 respondence on my findings, I advised the Minister:
"Having now considered the matter carefully, I
have concluded that the manner in which you
exercised your discretion was arbitrary and unfair and contrary to the spirit of s.21 (4) of the
Municipal Act. Since you have agreed that there
was "substantial opposition", I believe the residents of the affected area were entitled to expect
a) an opportunity to vote on the proposal, or
b) at the very least, to be informed, before any
final action was taken, of your decision not to
hold a vote, and of the substance of the information you relied upon in arriving at that decision, so that they could, if they wished, rebut
the accuracy of that information.
"My conclusion is that neither of these expectations
was fulfilled..."
In accordance with this conclusion, I recommended,
"... that you take appropriate steps to remedy the
effects of your action. You will note that I am not
recommending a very specific remedy. I expect that
you or your office will be in a good position to assess
alternative remedies open to you, and that we will
then be able to discuss these with you."
The Minister has refused to accept either my conclusions or my recommendation, and in fact denies that
I have any jurisdiction in the matter because, he
says, his decision was made as a result of his general policy on boundary extensions, and was not,
therefore, a "matter of administration". He has, however, agreed to modify certain procedures used in
his Ministry, to ensure that future requests for boundary extensions are better documented and
While these modifications are commendable, they
do not address the basic problem which I believe
exists, and which the Minister has decided to ignore.
Following the exchange of further correspondence
and a personal meeting with the Minister, I found no
change in his basic position. I therefore visited the
community early in April 1981, to inform the complainants of the results of my investigation, and to
advise them of their remaining options through the
I am including a summary and comment on the
Sayward complaint in this report because it illustrates two kinds of problems which are beginning to
recur frequently.
First, the authority (specifically, the Minister in
this case) has taken the position that the complaint
ir^plves a matter of policy, not of administration, and
that it is therefore beyond my jurisdiction. He contends that his decisions — not to hold a vote in the
proposed extension area, and to recommend the
boundary extension to Cabinet — were poffl
ones, arising out of the government's policy gB
couraging municipal boundary expansions sofS
include, whenever possible, the residents of "f|i
areas" within existing municipalities.
I have repeatedly attempted to make it clear
the Minister — apparently without success —«|
have not been investigating his policy, nor have||j
comment or recommendation to make on it. m
may well be excellent reasons for or againsM
encouragement of municipal boundary expanS
throughout the Province, but these have not ffl
the subject of my investigation. Clearly, any poS
implemented by means of administrative decisioi
and actions, and indeed it would be difficult ten
ceive of a legitimate administrative action whicji
not flow from a policy. This connection, then, effl
be held out as a reason for preventing my \nvem
tion of an administrative action or decision. A poli
of itself may be acceptable or even laudable, bjm
is implemented arbitrarily, unreasonably, or unB
there will undoubtedly exist administrative actio
which are liable to investigation and criticism. ■
Sayward case, I informed the Minister of my crB
sion that "the manner in which you exercisecM
discretion" was arbitrary and unfair. This coneffi
referred not to the policy, but to decisions made
implementing it in a specific case. I trust tham
kind of distinction will be considered and duly not
by all the authorities involved in my investigaM
The second problem concerns the obserSi
of procedural fairness. In general, I believe itg
tremely important that the principles of natural
tice and administrative fairness be observed by
persons responsible for making or implementing!
cisions, whenever individuals or groups of cig
will be adversely affected by such decisions. T
Ombudsman Act, for example, not only implieat
expressly requires that such principles be follow
by the Ombudsman himself: before making a rep
or recommendation that may adversely affect
authority, the Ombudsman must inform the authoi
of the grounds, and give the authority the opporti
ty to make representations before he decide^ t
matter. Administrative fairness requires that asfni
course be followed by an authority with respect
citizens. In some cases, this may imply a need fo
In the Sayward case, I concluded that thi^
ter's actions amounted to a denial of procedi
fairness towards the complainants. One of the cc
plainants put the problem in a nutshell in a letter
the Premier: "He (the Minister of Municipal Affa
appears to have turned a blind eye and a deaf eai
repeated pleas from our people for him to at le
hear both sides before making his decisM
chose to deny us this opportunity." For my pai
believe that the very existence of (what ia&<
subsection 22(4) of the Municipal Act implies thi
enough people are concerned about a bound
 ion, they should have the opportunity to vote
proposal. It is true that the statute provides for
|rcise of ministerial discretion, but the provi-
juch a discretion carries with it a duty and an
tion to act fairly, and I cannot accept that it
:e exercised in an arbitrary manner, to silence
kential opposition. Many recent cases in com-
kw support the proposition that a Minister must
fly in such matters.
my opinion, when the Minister decided not to
Rote in the extension area, he should at least
Rormed the affected residents of this deci-
ind of the reasons favouring the boundary
Bon, and heard their arguments against the
ial, before making a final decision. Since the
Sr does not recognize any unfairness in his
Rsince the Cabinet acted on his recommen-
by passing the Order in Council, and since
Ee statutory difficulties with reversing the
ary extension even if this were desired, I have
d not to submit a report to the Lieutenant
lior in Council under s.24(1) of the Ombuds-
:ct, and have closed my investigation.
le Minister, in his correspondence with me,
fdicated that boundary extensions were
ffiwithout a vote" in several other municipal-
Iring the past decade. Since I did not investi-
ijose events, I do not know whether procedural
Is was observed on other occasions, but even
ne not, that does not constitute a valid reason
loetuation of the practice. I am at present
Ig an investigation on my own initiative into
If problems connected with municipal
irures and boundary extensions, and this may
In recommendations on, amongst other
■the observance of procedural fairness in the
[fling 1980, my office dealt with a relatively
hmber of complaints against the Superan-
(8 Branch. The Branch administers 7 major
i«and benefits statutes, including, for exam-
SPension (Public Service) Act, the Pension
t|'s) Act, and the Pension (Municipal) Act.
tails the administration of approximately
•9 contributors' accounts and looking after to-
j$;ion funds amounting to approximately
3nch staff deserve credit for providing my
fetors with information and documentation in
pit and efficient manner.
CS 80-065
Pension eligibility
A woman who had worked for the Provincial Government for a total of 27 years was told she was not
eligible for a pension. She felt this decision was
unjust and asked me to investigate.
The complainant had been employed as a public
servant intermittently between 1936 and 1973. On
several occasions she had withdrawn her contributions to the superannuation fund. At the time of
retirement, at age 63, the complainant found herself
without a pension because she was five months
short of the required minimum of 10 continuous
years of service.
In 1969, during her last period of continuous service,
the complainant inquired whether her earlier service
could be reinstated for pension purposes after her
completing the ten-year minimum consecutive service for a pension. Over several years she was unable to obtain an unambiguous answer and ultimately resigned in frustration after having completed only
9 years and 7 months of the required minimum of 10
years' service that would have made her eligible for
a pension, and for reinstatement of her earlier service. Several weeks after her resignation in May
1973, the Superannuation Branch held out definite
prospects to her that she could reinstate her earlier
service for pension purposes as early as November
1973, provided she served a minimum of 10 years.
In 1975, the Supreme Court of British Columbia considered the complainant's motion for an Order of
Mandamus directed to the Superannuation Commissioner requiring him to reinstate her account and
to allow her to repay to the fund the contributions
which had been refunded to her. The Court concluded that the Superannuation Commissioner was within his jurisdiction in refusing the complainant's request. In considering the case, the Court had
assumed that the complainant had not made contributions during the last years of her service. Yet the
complainant had indeed been contributing for 9
years and 7 months before her retirement and her
superannuation account showed a balance in her
favour. C.B.C Ombudsman host Robert Cooper took
up the case in 1975 but was unable to persuade
authorities to change their decision.
In my discussions with the Ministry, I was able to
point to a sequence of events that had not been
considered earlier. In 1945 the complainant, a nurse,
had applied for a leave of absence, without pay,
from the public service to serve in Britain as part of
the war effort. Her application had been refused
without adequate reason (the reason given was that
the St. John's Ambulance Society was not part of
His Majesty's Forces) She also had never been
notified of this decision. Had her application been
approved, she would have returned to the public
service in 1946 and subsequent events might have
taken a different turn. I also pointed out that the
failure of the Superannuation Commissioner s Office
 THE WIZARD OF ID by permission of Johnny Hart and Field
to give adequate and timely information as well as a
number of other administrative shortcomings had
contributed to the complainant's early resignation in
I recommended to the Superannuation Commissioner that an Order in Council be issued recognizing a
sufficient period of the complainant's service as
pensionable service in order to qualify her for a
minimum pension.
At first, the Superannuation Commissioner claimed
that there was no authority for such a procedure.
When I pointed to a statutory provision that gave
Cabinet exactly that authority, the Superannuation
Commissioner claimed next that, although statutory
provision did exist, it had never been used — as
though that settled the issue. As it turned out, there
was indeed a precedent: the Government, some
years back, wanted to hire a senior official who was
prepared to join the public service provided that
earlier years of employment were recognized by the
public service pension system. They were.
I asked whether there was one law for the high and
mighty and quite another law for the lowly officials?
No, they would not put it that way, but neither was
the Superannuation Commissioner prepared to extend equal consideration to everybody. What concerned him most was that there might be a flood of
others also asking for an exception. I suggested that
every applicant had a right to expect that his or her
case be considered on its own merits.
After many months of consultations with the Superannuation Commissioner, I called on the Provincial
Secretary, and on his recommendation, an Order in
Council was issued recognizing five months of the
complainant's service and making her eligible to
receive a pension. I was particularly pleased about
the Provincial Secretary's decision to recognize the
1945 period as pensionable service, as it established to my satisfaction that a woman's contribution
to the war effort could be given recognition like that
of a man, at least for pension purposes.
The woman now receives a pension for 10 years of
her service with the Provincial Government.
I would like to add that, in spite of the difference of
opinion between the Superannuation Commissioner
Enterprises, Inc.
and myself, the Superannuation Branch, at ;
stages of my investigation, was very cooperative
providing information and access to files and othi
CS 80-066
Reduction of superannuation
(Note: Because of the wide publicity this comaai
received, there can be little doubt as to the cor
plainant's identity. I have therefore referred to ll
Loffmark by name in this summary.)
Within a few days of the opening of my office
October 1979,1 received a complaint from Mr. Ralf
Loffmark, concerning the recent reduction Mn
M.L.A. pension to approximately 20% of its fM
level, following a decision by the Superannuate
Mr. Loffmark was a Member of the B.C. Legislatu
and a Cabinet Minister for nearly nine years, up
September 1972. At that time he returned to I"
former position as a professor at the Univerm
British Columbia, and in March 1975 he was grants
a superannuation allowance under the Members
the Legislative Assembly Superannuation Act.
In December 1976, he completed and returneda'V
employment form", indicating that he was employs
by U.B.C. Such forms are routinely sent by the S
perannuation Branch every two or three years, f
completion by all persons in various groups who!
pensions are administered by the Branch. Tl
Branch took no action following Mr. Loffmark's 19.
In June 1979 Mr. Loffmark received, completed, ar
returned another such form, but was then advise
through a letter dated 1 August 1979, that:*
"The Members of the Legislative Assembly Superannuation Act, under which your allowance
has been granted, provides that the employer
paid portion of an allowance shall be suspendec
during the period that a pensioner is in paid em
ployment with a corporation established under ar
Act of the Legislature."
The letter indicated that his cheque for July h
 educed to less than $100, and requested
pf his employment history since 1975 so that
tal overpayment of pension could be
jfmark was unable to persuade the Branch
was entitled to the full allowance, and so
|f his complaint to me.
neously, the matter received considerable
I in the news media. Allegations were made,
Band, that Mr. Loffmark's pension had been
Remarkably rapidly when he first applied for
p, and on the other hand, that the reduction
tension was related to his political activities
the governing party during the provincial
1 of May 1979. In my investigation, therefore, I
It proper to probe these allegations as well
Basic question concerning the reduction of
ym 1980 Mr. Loffmark decided to petition for
review of the decision to reduce his pension,
I following month the Court's interpretation of
lfte resulted in the restoration of his pension
[rmer level. The Court decision was not ap-
land did not affect the pensions of any other
liile, as my investigation continued, I was
Conclude that some of the allegations which
len made were not substantiated. For in-
I there was no undue speed in granting Mr.
ik his pension in 1975, since all the necessary
Ions and arrangements had been made ear-
inticipation of his formal request. In June 1979
inch had, as planned five months earlier,
■batch of re-employment forms to over 7,000
ir, including Mr. Loffmark, whose receipt of a
Bthat time was therefore clearly unrelated to
tit political activities. A check made of decimating to the pensions of 48 other ex-M.L.A.s
(= that the pensions of others had also been
h at various times under the same provisions
lit, although in the other cases the employers
it universities, but corporations or boards
[a/ere, for practical purposes, government
in writing to two questions. These questions did not
concern the legal opinion itself, but were intended to
determine whether anyone attempted to bring improper pressure on the sojicitor. However, the solicitor's superiors in the Attorney General's Ministry
have refused to permit answers to these questions,
on the grounds that I have no jurisdiction. Thus, after
more than a year, this aspect of the investigation
remains incomplete and I have been unable to arrive
at any conclusions as to whether the Superannuation Commissioner's decision might have been improperly affected by this route.
CS 80-067
Just a matter of time
A former employee, now retired, of the Ministry of
Tourism complained that the Ministry owed him money. After his retirement, he had been re-hired on a
short-term contract basis to work on a special
project. Five months after the termination of that
contract he had still not received payment for his
On investigation I found that a complicated
contractual arrangement had been entered into, but
had never been officially approved by Treasury
Board. Consequently, the request for payment approval was held up by the Ministry of Finance (Office
of the Comptroller General) since it lacked the usual
The complainant received his cheque shortly after
the Ministry received notice of my intention to investigate. While this complaint was resolved by the
Ministry's action, I found that there had been unreasonable delay on the Ministry's part.
S/eral of the Ministry's staff had been ques-
a concluded that if, as alleged, any political
;Li had been exerted during this episode, it
^iost likely have been directed at a particular
•rlfficial of the Branch, or at the Ministry's
to in the Attorney General's Ministry) who had
dil the legal opinion upon which the decision
bsed. The Branch official has unhesitatingly
pr written replies to my questions. Taking
j: conjunction with all the other information
p|l, I have found no evidence of improper
(for political influence with respect to public
in in the Superannuation Branch, although it is
bti t administrative errors were made.
k|itor involved was also requested to respond
The Ministry of Transportation and Highways
was one of the authorities most often complained
about in 1980. Complaints which were investigated
were divided almost > qually between those involving the Motor Vehicle Bi men and those involving the
Highways Division of the Ministry. All sectors of the
Ministry offered good cooperation, although officials
of the Motor Vehicle Branch deserve my particular
appreciation for their exemplary efforts in assisting
ISSaCH&PULep TO (S5> PkaSftr
THR^U^H <3UP <5UE-«T RlZW-
THE WIZARD OF ID by permission of Johnny Hart and Field Enterprises, Inc.
my staff during the course of complaint
Common subjects of complaint concerning the
Motor Vehicle Branch were the assessment of penalty points, suspension of drivers' licences, the refusal
to issue licences, and restrictions placed upon drivers' licences. Roughly a third of these complaints
were found to be not substantiated, while another
third were resolved by the Motor Vehicle Branch,
subsequent to my involvement.
Investigations into most of the remainder of
these complaints were discontinued because the
complainant had not exercised an available administrative review procedure.
Complaints involving the Highways Division of
the Ministry most often concerned highway maintenance, the approval and disapproval of subdivision
plans, and the acquisition of property for highways
purposes by the Ministry. Within the last category, an
issue which commonly arose was the extent to
which the Ministry should compensate for the
adverse effects to private property owners caused
by the establishment or realignment of a highway.
CS 80-068
Access to information: a real barrier?
The Chairman of a Regional District complained
about the refusal of the Ministry of Transportation &
Highways to release a 1978 study on the stability of
the Garibaldi Barrier. The Ministry's refusal to release
it "pending formulation of government policy" on the
matter caused increasing administrative difficulties
to the Regional District.
Several days after receiving notice of my intention to
investigate, the Government released the report to
the public.
CS 80-069
Pasture or gravel pit?
A rancher in the East Kootenays complained that the
Ministry expropriated 15 acres of her grazing land for
use as a gravel pit. Compensation had been offered
to her but not accepted, as she disputed the right of
the Ministry to take over the land at all.
Subsequent to my intervention, it was discoverei
the Ministry that it had no further use for the gr,
pit. My staff assisted in arranging a settler
whereby the land would be resloped and seedei
as to make it suitable for grazing once again. C
pensation in excess of $4,000 was paid as rent
the Government's use of the land. This result i
satisfactory to the complainant, especially as
also recovered the land.
CS 80-070
Contract work: Hired Equipment Policy
A contractor complained to my office that a H
ways District foreman had improperly discritaja
against him. He had taken out a loan to buy a di
truck in the belief that, under the Ministry's H
Equipment Policy, he would be first for work on
district foreman's eligibility list for the town in wt
he resided. However, he was ranked eighth on
list. The contractor claimed that he had been
properly discriminated against and conseque
had received only two months' work, far less b
ness than he was entitled to under a fair applica
of the policy.
The Hired Equipment Policy aims to establish i
maintain an optimum supply of local equipment
erators available for hire with each local Highw
district. The policy requires district foremen to i
priority in contracting to local residents over r
dents of other areas and districts. If a shortagi
dump trucks exists in one area, units can be hirer
the same priority basis from adjacent areas. On
other hand, in many areas, there are too many tru
available and to try to spread the available workt
trucks would result in none making enough torn
tain a healthy local industry.
Since the policy required that local residentsreci
first priority, and since the complainant was the i
local resident who had registered for work, I rec
mended that the complainant be moved to first p
tion on the area eligibility list. The Ministry sq|rrr
strict application of the Hired Equipment Pglic
other areas of the Province had adversely affecj
established equipment owners. The Hired Eq
ment Policy was therefore being amended tofe< j
nize the seniority of established owners irPM
 Ban area in which a major project was taking
jjerefore, my initial recommendation was not
jetings between my investigative staff and
officials, a compromise was reached bal-
ne interests of the complainant and other
mk owners in the neighbouring area. It was
fiat the complainant would be placed third
arimary hiring list for dump trucks in the
p which he lived. Two months later, the com-
ialled to say that he was not placed third, as
.greement. Further communication between
land Ministry representatives was necessary
ire implementation of the agreed
concerned about all aspects of this case,
^e notified the Ministry that I will continue to
the situation:
n the Ministry formalizes and publishes
Impolicies as the Hired Equipment Policy, it
Iladhere to its own policy guidelines and
lot vary the policy to suit its convenience.
hain concerned that amendments to the
l| Equipment Policy will vest too much dis-
|i>n in the hands of foremen, leaving too
In room for irrelevant considerations. I recog-
[a legitimate need for discretionary powers
[insider seniority, geographical location and
Inility of equipment and operators.
Ibment owners have a right to be informed of
Basons for their priority placement on a
ij list in the same way that applicants for
Bwiment positions have a right to know why
Bere or were not hired.
idual who resides in a rural area complained
l^mistry of Transportation and Highways had
terly maintained the two roads which process to his property and that these roads
iv in an unsafe condition for motor vehicle
s:ant discussed this matter with the District
fe Manager and was informed that while one
B.ds intersected with a third road in a manner
aootentially hazardous, the Ministry regularly
idnd graded the road to ensure that it was
Boublic travel. He explained that the other
rach provided access to the complainant's
.•■I was subject to erosion but was regularly
-Hid by the Ministry and would continue to be
pi mation was conveyed to the complainant
& satisfied with the assurances of continued
K2ss to his property. The complaint was re-
if i the Ministry.
CS 80-072
Access to private property
A property owner complained about the refusal of
the Ministry of Transportation and Highways to provide him with legal access to his property. The complainant had purchased a small parcel of land some
years ago in the hope of being able to retire on the
property. Unfortunatey, the property had no legal
access road.
My assistant reviewed the Ministry's policy which is
that individuals who wish to subdivide land, thereby
creating new parcels, are required to construct, at
their own expense, access roads to all newly created properties. The Ministry will ordinarily undertake to maintain such roads after their construction.
In this case, my assistant discovered that a right-of-
way upon which to build an access road was shown
on the subdivision plan. Because of an error in drafting the plan, certain portions of this right-of-way
simply did not exist and it was, therefore, impossible
to construct an access road along this alignment.
During the course of the investigation, however, it
was discovered that the complainant was aware of
this problem when he purchased the property and
fully appreciated that there was no existing right-of-
way upon which to construct an access road. I concluded that the responsibility for purchasing and
constructing an access road did not lie with the
Ministry of Transportation and Highways and the
complaint was therefore not substantiated.
Had the complainant not been aware of the lack of
an existing right-of-way, and had he been misled by
the incorrectly drawn subdivision plan, I could have
argued that the Ministry was responsible for the
approval of a subdivision plan which incorrectly indicated a right-of-way upon which an access road
might be constructed. The Legislature has given the
Ministry's approving officers the right, and indeed
the responsibility, of rejecting a subdivision plan
where proper access is not provided and the Ministry might therefore be held accountable where the
subdivision plan had been approved without provision for legal access to the properties. However, in a
case such as this, where the complainant purchased the property with prior knowledge of the lack
of legal access, I concluded that the responsibility
for providing access to the property passes to the
new owner, given that the lack of legal access was a
factor in determining the price paid for the property.
CS 80-073
Keeping your commitments
Mr. and Mrs. Anderson complained that the Ministry
of Transportation and Highways acted improperly in
failing to respect the terms of a 1966 agreement to
buy a portion of their land. They were frustrated and
embittered over the way they had been treated by
the Highways Ministry.
 In 1966, the Ministry had purchased from the Andersons approximately 19 acres of land which was severed from their farm as a result of the development
of a highway. The Ministry wished to purchase this
parcel primarily to save the expense of having to
build an underpass and fencing for the Andersons'
cattle. However, the Andersons would only sell the
severed property on the condition that "... the
property remain as Crown land and not be sold to
the public and that the property be developed as a
roadside park or campsite". The Ministry's representative agreed to incorporate these terms into the
sale agreement.
The Andersons believed that the signing of the
agreement by both parties guaranteed that the
property would only be used for park purposes. The
Ministry paid for the property but did not convey it as
specified in the agreement. To convey the parcel
properly to the Government, the Andersons should
have been asked to sign a deed of conveyance
containing the terms of the sale agreement which
would then have been registered as a covenant
against the land in the Land Titles Office.
In 1971 a representative of the Ministry visited the
Andersons and attempted to have them sign a deed
granting the land to the Ministry, but without the
conditions contained in the 1966 agreement. The
complainants refused to sign without the conditions.
Had they done so the restrictive covenants
contained in the agreement would have been extinguished. Also in 1971 the Ministry permitted a local
municipality to build a road through the property to
facilitate the construction of a sewage treatment
plant on adjoining Crown land leased by the city. The
Ministry did this while the Andersons still held title to
the property, without consulting them and in violation
of the terms of the 1966 agreement.
In 1978, a representative of the neighbouring municipality asked the Andersons to release a small portion
of the property for a municipal incinerator site, but
they refused. The Ministry then proceeded to obtain
title to the property by way of a notice in the B.C.
Gazette establishing the entire 19 acres as a highway. I concluded from the sequence of these events
that the Ministry's intention in establishing title by
publication in the Gazette was to clear the wayfi
portion of the property to be used by the municii
ity as an incinerator site. Since the property cc
not have been used for such a purpose had
terms of the 1966 agreement been properlyfl.l
tered under a deed, the use of this procedure
acquire title appears to have been a means of
cumventing the Ministry's obligation.
In the end, the residents of the local munSJ
defeated the proposed incinerator bylaw in a pi ■
scite, and it appeared that the property would)
longer be required for that purpose. In the mor;
that followed, and prior to my involvement, the Mi -
try committed itself to transferring the propett)
the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing for use i j
park. However, the complainants were concenl
about an "easement" through the property wh
the Ministry of Transportation and Highways jj
preparing to register in favour of the local mun|i|
ity. Representatives of the Ministry of Lands, Park
Housing also indicated that the registration of
easement would affect their ability to manage
property as a park and would make it more diffii
for them to relocate the road at a later date in
interest of park development. At the same time,
Ministry of Lands, Parks & Housing acknowledr.
that the city should continue to have access throi
the property to their sewage treatment plant s
were proposing that this be accomplished by a P
Use Permit. Requests to this effect from the Pa
Branch were rejected by the Ministry of Highwa
At the commencement of my investigation the Mil
try had taken the position that a Park Use Permitv
not secure enough and that a registered easeir*
was the best option for the city. After a meet
between my staff and representatives of the t
Ministries involved it was agreed that a represer
tive of the Ministry of Lands, Parks & Housing wo
approach the city with a Park Use Permit propos
This proposal was readily accepted by the city. T
Ministry of Transportation and Highways then tra]
ferred the property to the Ministry of Lands, Parka
Housing without any registered easement. T
transaction was completed in 1980, some 14 ye
after the original agreement had been signed.
THE WIZARD OF ID by permission of Johnny Hart and Field Enterprises, Inc.
llded that the actions of the Ministry of Trans-
m and Highways in dealing with the Ander-
|re unjust and improper.
he transfer of the property to the Ministry of
{Parks & Housing resolved the Anderson's
jmplaint, I felt that the Ministry of Transporta-
HHighways owed them an apology. The corn-
its had been caused a considerable amount
IK over the years and the Ministry, on my
Bendation, apologized to the complainants.
nistry of Lands, Parks & Housing has now
fd for the designation of the property as a
III Park to be officially opened sometime in
IBthough the Parks Branch has decided to
sPark a rather dry name for historical rea-
rne it will always be the Anderson Provincial
ler of interest
l/eloper of a small subdivision complained
Ifflinistry of Transportation and Highways had
refused to pay him the interest it had collect-
I performance bond he had posted with the
liry of 1979, the developer was required to
lond with the Ministry to ensure that a road
I the subdivision would be properly con-
I. The road was constructed as required, and
It was returned to the developer almost one
lir it had been posted. As it happened, at the
liosting the bond, the developer had found it
■ry to borrow a sum of money from a bank in
I provide the Ministry with the bond. When
Ii was returned, the Government paid back
■Drincipal and did not repay to the complain-
■M the interest which had accrued over the
sisequently the developer found himself out
est the amount of interest which had been
e by his bank for the necessary loan.
Mstry maintained that it had not paid the
Biecause it did not have statutory authority to
lest. I reasoned that the purpose of the bond
Bisure compliance with a commitment rather
||raise revenue for the Government and I
assd to the Minister of Rnance that the Regu-
pt the Financial Control Act be amended to
tor the repayment of interest in such cases. I
13 jested to the Ministry of Transportation and
aa.;, in the meantime, while Rnance consid-
rtshange, that Highways staff inform individ-
b ng bonds, that the bonds could be posted
Bin of a security, the interest on which would
b: the name of the individual rather than the
i/try of Finance replied that, while individuals
sSi advised that no interest would be paid on
BEDSits, since it was the individual's choice to
& rather than securities, it was not prepared
to amend the regulations to provide for the payment
of interest on cash deposits. Given that the Ministry
of Transportation and Highways agreed to instruct
its staff to advise all individuals of the disadvantage
of posting cash deposits, I decided not to pursue my
concern that the Regulations be amended at this
time. Should further complaints arise, I will raise the
issue again with the Ministry of Rnance.
CS 80-075
Catch 22 running amok!
(Note: Because this complaint has received some
publicity, the complainant has agreed that we may
use his name in this summary.)
A homeowner with medical problems had been trying for 36 months to obtain Ministry, regional district
and municipal approval to subdivide his lot. This
would enable him to sell the front portion of his
property and move into a one-storey house he had
built on the back half of the property. (Both halves
accessed onto separate roads.) He had lived on the
s'jje for 23 years.
The complainant was one of the most frustrated
individuals I have encountered to date. He had borrowed money to build his new house, had retained a
lawyer and had met and resolved many earlier roadblocks to his plans before he came to see me. The
complainant had proceeded to build his new house
in the mistaken belief that he would not have any
trouble obtaining subdivision approval from the municipality. Although he recognized this was a serious
error it did not lessen his frustration at finding himself
in a complicated legal and financial box.
Mr. Taylor's property was approximately one acre.
Neighbouring parcels varied in size, with several
being approximately one half acre. The regional plan
 provided for a five-acre minimum lot size in the area.
Despite repeated requests from the complainant,
the regional district refused to grant an exemption to
the minimum lot size requirement. In view of what the
complainant had originally been led to believe, his
present situation, and the character of the
neighbourhood, I felt the fairest solution would be to
permit the parcel to be split into two half-acre lots,
each of which already had a house located on it.
Although I was not able to investigate the complaint
against the regional district (as that part of the authority schedule in the Ombudsman Act is not yet
proclaimed in force), I was able to assist him in two
ways. Rrst, I wrote to the regional district and outlined my opinion on the merits of the complaint.
Secondly, I referred him to a provision of the Municipal Act which provides for inquiries into decisions of
regional districts by the B.C. Inspector of Municipalities. As a result, a hearing under that provision was
carried out and the regional plan was amended to
allow the subdivision.
The second complaint in this complicated problem
was directed against the Ministry of Transportation
and Highways. Normally, subdivision of land within a
municipality requires only municipal approval. In this
case the land had frontage on a "Controlled Access
Highway"; therefore the complainant had to receive
prior approval from the Ministry of Transport
and Highways. This approval was limited to ac
considerations as stated under a particular sts
The Ministry refused to give this approval, no
cause of any access concerns, but on the basis
the regional plan for the area called for a five
minimum lot size. When it was pointed out ti
Ministry that it was usurping the statutory furwj
the municipal approving officer, and was doir
without any statutory authority, it acknowledgec
fact but refused to change the decisfflBj
I investigated this complaint over a period of se
months and, since the Ministry was acting wi
legal authority, decided that the complaint was
stantiated. The complaint was rectified after I
vided my findings to the Ministry. It agreed ti
prove the subdivision as to access. The compla
was then able to obtain the necessary mun
approval, have his subdivision registered, am
tain an occupancy permit for his new one
home. I recommended to the Ministry that it alt
policy and practice in future for the benefit ot
and the Ministry agreed to do so.
This case was one of several examples of the la
a unified planning process in the Province a
present time. I also referred the facts of thisca
the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
Agricultural Land Commission has ex-
j/aluable cooperation to my office over the
ar and was always ready to discuss the
raits policies and procedures.
§ of the complaints against the Agricultural
Wimission involved the denial of an applica-
g small land holder to subdivide. In most
fter investigation, it was found that the Corn-
fed correctly and fairly followed its legislates, and procedures. In one instance when
Jubt about the correctness of the Commis-
ISision not to approve the subdivision appli-
I suggested to the complainant that he ap-
Ihe Commission directly. At the request of
lolainant the Commission reviewed its deci-
I reversed it. In another case, after investiga-
l/ised the complainant to retain a profession-
jigist. The examination by the agrologist
Id results which encouraged the applicant to
I his own initiative, exclusion from the Agri-
l.and Reserve.
ision of ALR land
ciplainant alleged that the Commission had
denied his application to subdivide a parcel
Bimission uses several criteria when assess-
^cations to subdivide. These criteria include
Biultural potential of the parcel of land, the
ft the proposed use on the local agricultural
W the compatibility of the proposal with local
Hnent objectives, and whether there are al-
le sites for the proposed use. The Commis-
pls on the Canada Land Inventory System for
Nation concerning the arability of land. The
complainant felt the land was too stony for
cultivation, but according to the Canada Land Inventory System rating it had substantial agricultural value. The Commission denied the application because it was of the opinion that subdivision would
seriously reduce the land's agricultural potential and
negatively affect neighbouring agricultural operations. In addition it would have the effect, in the
Commission's opinion, of setting a precedent for
future subdivision of good farm land within that area.
Subdivision of this property would also violate the
applicable municipal zoning bylaw.
I concluded that the evidence supported the Commission's decision, that it had applied its usual criteria and procedures, and that those criteria and procedures were in accordance with the Agricultural
Land Commission Act. There was no apparent unfairness or mistake on the part of the Commission.
The complaint was not substantiated.
CS 80-077
Explaining a .iew way of taxation
The M.L.A. for Coquitlam-Moody referred a complaint to me concerning a woman who alleged that
her assessment was unfair. She had been taxed for
two lots of land in 1980 whereas for 26 years previously her property was taxed as one lot. She felt
that one lot was too rocky to be built on and she was
concerned that her existing house might straddle
both lots.
My staff held a preliminary meeting with Authority
representatives which had recently taken over the
assessing responsibility from the Municipality. The
£1/IZARD OF ID by permission of Johnny Hart and Field Enterprises, Inc.
Assessment Act allows the assessor to give consideration to the price that the land and improvements might reasonably be expected to bring if
offered for sale on the open market. For the previous
26 years the woman's land had been taxed by the
Municipality as one lot. Since the woman's two lots
could be sold separately, the Authority assessed the
lots separately.
I first directed the property-owner to the procedures
available to appeal her assessment through the normal appeal process. When this proved unsuccessful
I investigated the complaint. The authority had properly assessed the lot and I found the complaint to be
not substantiated. The owner, however, remained
unconvinced. I then arranged for my staff to meet
with her at the site together with municipal officials
and representatives of the authority. Measurements
were made of where the house was located on the
property, and it was explained that a reduction in the
assessment for blasting of rock had recently been
made. As a result of the meeting the complainant
was able to understand the reasons for the change
in her assessment.
CS 80-078
Assessing the arability of farmland
for taxation purposes
A woman complained that the Authority had erred in
assessing the arability of her farmland. As a result of
the error she feared she would lose her farm classification and would have to pay higher taxes.
The Authority advised the owner that in order to
classify her land as "farm" for assessment purposes, she would be required to sell in excess of
$2,000 worth of produce. However, she could only
provide receipts totalling $1,600. The complainant
felt that the Authority should not have calculated her
production requirements on the full 31 acres of her
farm since only 7 acres could be considered arable.
My investigator discussed the problem with the Deputy Assessor who agreed to inspect the complainant's property and to reconsider its classification.
The Deputy Assessor was able to confirm to his
satisfaction that less than 10 acres of her property
was arable. He therefore reclassified the remaining
part of the property which resulted in the lowering of
her assessment for tax purposes. The woman had a
valid complaint which was quickly resolved by the
Authority when the problem was identified.
CS 80-079
Taxes: too much or too little?
A property owner complained that her property assessments of earlier years were far too high, and
that she had therefore paid too much in taxes in
those years. She found the Area Assessor's explanation of the changing values to be beyond comprehension and sought a tax rebate.
The "actual value" assessment of the property in
question rose by 10 percent in 1979, then felv
nearly 34 percent in 1980. The Area Assessor \
vided me with full details of the year-to-year char s
of "actual values" in the vicinity of the property i
the reasons for these changes. He also revea
that the unusual fall in value for 1980 in this parties
case was due in part to a calculation error, and $
the owner had thus, in fact, benefitted by pan
less tax in 1980 since the error would not be con?
ed until the 1981 assessments were made. In
being provided with a detailed explanation, the It
plainant withdrew the complaint.
CS 80-080
B.C. Ferries
I received several complaints from passes;
about the refusal of the B.C. Ferry Corporation
provide compensation for damages to vehicles ;
result of accidents aboard ferries. In one instant i
driver of a camper truck struck an overt c
turnbuckle, causing over $200 damage. The ci
plainant said that the turnbuckle he struck was ina
path he had been directed to follow by a ferry i
ployee and that no warning of the hazard was y
vided. In another case, a driver's trailer hitclhf 1
ramp apron and the vehicle required some !K
worth of repairs. The complainant had not ti
speeding; the ramp attendant should have lowi (
the ramp to avoid contact. The complainant m
tained after he hit the apron, it was lowered fond
unloading of the remaining vehicles.
In the course of investigating these and other cn
plaints, the following important general queiifl
emerged: Are fair procedures used by the B.C. Frj
Corporation in dealing with passenger claimtq
I found that existing procedures did not provide
opportunity for the claimants to present t,heir clna
effectively. I also found that the Corporation, "d
jecting a claim, did not usually provide reasc*
explanations to the claimant. For instance, in p
case, a passenger with a claim for comgejisjld
was told to call a certain individual forinformatior
how to proceed with the claim. When the claim
telephoned the person whose name he had |
given, he was told to call the Corporation's apps
er, but was then asked to wait for a few days to |
him time to review the report. Two days later |
claimant called the appraiser again but was tolf
was away for a few days. After further inquiry*
complainant was advised by a Corpora
employee to file an insurance claim. But the <n
plainant was denied a copy of the accident repo>r
 ffihat it was for internal use only.
Hussion between B.C. Ferry staff and my
Mors, new terms of reference were devel-
the Corporation for dealing with passenger
if compensation. These terms of reference
.{guideline that once notification of a claim
Received, a claimant will be interviewed
lire practical this will involve a face-to-face
Iffiwith the claimant. In addition, the reason-
l|)ecl in reaching a conclusion about a claim
jibe fully explained to the claimant and the
Ion which the decision was based will be
Ijote that during the course of the investiga-
[Suestion of whether or not a passenger
lie B.C. Ferry Corporation in Small Claims
las raised. After discussions between my
IjCourt Administration staff, the matter was
land a directive was sent to all Small Claims
IRtries providing a legal opinion that the
Mbrocedures of the Small Claims Court are
■in actions against the B.C. Ferry
ij the pole
BBplained that Hydro wanted him to pay for
Kjffion of a power pole which was blocking
iway. He claimed that the pole was in the
Motion and that it was unfair to require that
1520 to move the pole,
■mspected the site with a representative of
■ffiver City Street Light and Utilities Control
Branch and also discussed the matter with the
Hydro Supervisor responsible for power poles in the
area. The pole blocking the complainant's driveway
had been installed in 1945 and was situated in the
middle of the block in order to service the lot across
the street. However, the complainant's double garage was constructed only about two years ago.
It was my opinion that Hydro was not to blame for the
homeowner's current difficulties and it was reasonable to request payment if the pole were moved.
Nevertheless, in view of the complainant's problem,
Hydro agreed to move the pole at a reduced cost.
The homeowner was delighted with Hydro's willingness to compromise, and is now enjoying easier
access to his garage.
CS 80-082
Removing the secret memo
A construction labourer complained that he was
refused access to his own personnel file at a subsidiary company of Hydro. He believed the file
contained misleading and adverse information that
led the company to refuse to provide him with work
he expected on a construction job.
The subsidiary company had experienced a small
number of fires deliberately set in company bunk-
houses. These fires caused them to check with the
R.C.M.P who advised that the complainant had
once turned in a false alarm. On the basis of that
report, a supervisor had inserted a memo in the
worker's file indicating that the company should be
wary about rehiring him. The man who was dispatched through his union received no further employment from the company. My staff advised the
company of the circumstances under which the
false alarm had been turned in, and pointed out it
had no connection with the setting of fires. The
complainant stated he had witnessed sparks issuing
from an apartment building incinerator.
In my opinion the worker had a valid complaint and I
recommended that the incriminating memo be removed from the company's files and destroyed. The
company complied. The worker's union has since
secured his re-employment which has worked out
CS 80-083
Rural electrification
An individual living in a remote area of the Province
complained that she was not able to get electricity to
her home. She had applied to B.C. Hydro for electricity service. Hydro advised her that she would be
required to have the necessary right-of-way cleared
at her own expense before electricity service could
be installed. She complained that the developer who
had constructed the subdivision a number of years
ago should have cleared the right-of-way. The Minis-1
try of Transportation and Highways had released the
developer's performance bond, and he had subse-
 quently left the area.
My staff obtained a commitment from the District
Highways Manager to have the right-of-way cleared
at the Ministry's expense. Further, Hydro had failed
to advise the complainant of the financial assistance
she could receive under the Rural Electrification Assistance Program, and this assistance could also
serve to resolve her problem.
I provided the complainant with information about
the REA Program. With the commitment from Highways and the benefits of the Rural Electrification
Assistance Program, the complainant was able to
get electricity service at a reasonable cost.
CS 80-084
Proper notice
B.C. Hydro and Power Authority placed notice of
application for a pesticide use permit in a publication
not normally circulated among or read by residents
of the area which would be affected. Residents
were therefore unable to object before the deadline
because they were unaware of the proposed pesticide use or of the deadline. They sent their objections to my office.
B.C. Hydro is under a regulatory obligation to advertise pesticide permit applications. The local B.C.
Hydro supervisor believed, on the basis of newspaper circulation figures, that the advertisement he
placed in April 1980 would reach most residents of
the affected area. When I informed B.C. Hydro that
such was not the case, they applied for an amendment to the permit to extend the limitation period on
appeals to November 1980, and advertised the extension in a newspaper more widely circulated in the
affected area.
Thus, my investigation revealed that proper notice of
application for a pesticide use permit had not been
adequately publicised by B.C. Hydro. When the authority took steps to ensure proper notice to the
residents of the area, I considered the complaint
CS 80-085
A tragic death
A young farm hand was electrocuted when an irrigation pipe he had upended contacted a high voltage
power line. The parents of the young man contacted
me because they were concerned that B.C. Hydro
had not taken steps to conform to the recommendations made by the coroner's jury which inquired into
the death.
I found that the jury had recommended to B.C.
1. that danger signs be erected on every second
power pole;
2. that "Look Up and Live" stickers be mailed to all
farmers; and,
3. that improved public safety programs be carried
With respect to the first recommendation, I few
that B.C. Hydro could not comply as the erectigffl
any type of sign on their power poles would com
vene Workers' Compensation Board Safety Reffl
tion, Articles 22-26, and would present a hazara;
persons who work on the lines.
With respect to recommendations 2 and 3,1 foui
that B.C. Hydro had distributed stickers and m
duced some community education programs t
that these initiatives could be strengthened. Accoi
ingly, I recommended that every year, immediffl
prior to the start of the irrigation season, a warni
letter and a supply of "Look Up and Live" stickcS
two and three different sizes be supplied to allfS
ers who are B.C. Hydro customers, with the requs
that they be applied to fence posts, barns, and bit
structures in various areas of the farm, as wellS
pipes, ladders, and farm machinery.
B.C. Hydro agreed with this recommendation ai
several weeks later, forwarded to my office a samp
of material now being circulated by Hydro. Furtli
the Vice-President of Electrical Operations com
ed West Kootenay Power and Light Company L
with details of its expanded safety campaign
farm workers and an offer of assistance shoulmj
company be interested in staging a similar safi
CS 80-086
Tender trap?
A man had a complaint against Occupational Hea
Services, Ministry of Health. My investigator fou
that the complainant was a British Columbia Goffil
ment Employees Union (B.C.G.E.U.) member
was currently in the process of grieving his disrB
from the public service through his union.
The collective agreement between the B.C.G.E
and the Province of B.C. states that if an employ
endeavours to pursue the same grievance throu
any channel other than the agreement procedu
then the union agrees that the grievance shall
deemed abandoned. I advised the complainant a
the Ministry of Health (which had already been m
tied of the complaint) that I had discontinued
investigation of the case as the law or an existi
administrative procedure provided the person w
an adequate remedy.
When the Government Employee Relations Bure
(G.E.R.B.) learned of the grievor's request to r
office, the Bureau quickly sought to have the arpitl
tion dismissed. GE.R.B.'s complaint was that I
 m had sought an alternative remedy to his
gee, and was therefore precluded from pursu-
ffemedy under the collective agreement. The
Hwas heard by an arbitrator appointed under
©lie Service Adjudication Act and he found
ie complainant was precluded from utilizing his
thee remedies because he had contracted the
after was appealed to the Public Service Adju-
sn Board by the complainant, with the support
i union. My solicitor was permitted to make
lentations as a "friend of the court" on interim of the Ombudsman Act, at the appeal,
igh the appeal succeeded, the reason for the
hi did little to prevent G.E.R.B. from arguing, in
reire, that any B.C.G.E.U. member who ap-
ms the Ombudsman automatically forfeits his
o grieve under the provisions of the collective
S.E.R.B.'s position disturbing. It appears to be
Iw to the intent of the Ombudsman Act, sec-
Swhich reads:
The provisions of this Act are in addition to
Ifevisions of any other enactment or rule of
Lnder which
Ii remedy or right of appeal or objection is
li procedure is provided for inquiry into or
Investigation of a matter,
lind nothing in this Act limits or affects that
[emedy, right of appeal or objection or procedure." (my emphasis)
B.'s   position   in   this   case   was   quite
leptable to me in view of the fact that I had
led to investigate my complainant's problem
|se of the supposed availability of his union
Ince procedure.
Jfe the statistics contained in this report indi-
■ffhave received a large volume of complaints
1st the Insurance Corporation of British Colum-
liave made a special effort not to duplicate the
liies provided by other institutions (the courts
Bfenues of appeal available within the Corpora-
I Consequently, I have refused to investigate
■ complaints pertaining to adjusters' liability as-
■pnts; in these cases, I refer complainants to
H&ier remedies so that I can free staff time to
ligate complaints concerning matters of ad-
Iration not susceptible to scrutiny in another
Most of the complaints fall into a few major
areas. I have received many complaints pertaining
to the need to delineate the roles of I.CBC. and the
Motor Vehicle Branch; specifically, suspensions of
drivers' licences for debt and the multiplicity of "penalties" imposed by the two agencies. These concerns have been the subject of recommendations
by the Motor Vehicle Task Force, and I intend to
forward additional recommendations during 1981.
Complaints regarding the Corporation's no-
fault accident benefits program constitute a substantial proportion of the total. Although the legislation provides that claimants may sue for benefits, my
practice is to investigate many of these complaints
so that I can assess I.C.B.C.'s performance in this
important area of automobile insurance. However, I
have declined to investigate complaints of I.C.B.C.'s
withholding of disability benefits where the claimant's counsel is currently negotiating a personal injuries claim and the issue in dispute is the sufficiency
of the medical evidence. I refuse to pursue a complaint where I feel that an investigation by my office
would be only an unnecessary intervention.
I.C.B.C.'s cancellation practices have been another subject of criticism. The Corporation caused
some confusion in 1980 by failing to publish its short-
rate cancellation table in the Regulations to the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act and in the 1980
Autoplan Motorists' Kit. The error is being corrected
on I.C.B.C.'s initiative, but it did give rise to a number
of complaints pertaining to misinformation given by
the Corporation and its agents. These complaints
raise the issue of the extent of I.C.B.C.'s responsibility to inform the public of its policies.
I am also aware of a sense of dissatisfaction
with the quality of service provided by adjusters.
Often complainants will raise the issue of staff rudeness while in the process of bringing another complaint to my attention.
The working relationship between our two offices has been good, as a result of the excellent
cooperation received from I.C.B.C.'s Public Inquiries
Department. Complaints are first drawn to the attention of this Department, which states the corporate
position. If I am not satisfied with the Department's
response, I pursue the investigation further.
The need of my staff to go beyond the Public
Inquiries Department created a small misunderstanding earlier in the year. l.C.B.C. wished to limit
access to the Corporation by requiring my office fo
deal exclusively with the Public Inquiries Department. It goes without saying that I was not prepared
to accept this limitation. The present system of notifying l.C.B.C. initially and then carrying on with the
investigation was been quite satisfactory.
The Corporation's public information and claim
centres' staff have been most helpful. Over the past
year, with the cooperation of I.C.B.C.'s Public lnquir|
ies Officers, my investigators have accumulated a
 considerable knowledge of automobile insurance
law and corporate policies. I am grateful for the
patience demonstrated by l.C.B.C. staff and for the
useful, detailed information they have provided.
In conclusion, I am pleased with this system of
handling complaints. l.C.B.C. has acted with goodwill toward my office and its objectives.
CS 80-087
Better he had an accident!
An employee disappeared with a company car,
which he subsequently demolished in a highway
accident. l.C.B.C. disallowed a claim by the company for compensation under the provisions which
disallow theft claims with respect to an owner's
employees, and the company complained to my
After my office notified the Corporation of the complaint it discovered that while the decision to disallow the claim was proper under the heading of
"theft," it was not so under the heading of "collision." The company had a valid complaint which
was rectified when l.C.B.C. paid for the value of the
vehicle, less the deductible amount.
CS 80-088
Getting someone to listen
The complainant alleged that an agent's error involving his rate group classification resulted in an overcharge of $46 on his annual premium. The Corporation advised him that no insurance coverage would
be provided during the year unless he paid the
outstanding amount. Efforts by the complainant and
his agent to iron out the matter with the Corporation
proved futile.
After I notified the Corporation of the complaint and
requested a review of the matter, the Corporation
discovered the error. This person had a valid complaint which was rectified quickly when the Corporation adjusted the complainant's billing notice.
CS 80-089
It pays to be reasonable
A woman complained that the Corporation had offered to settle a claim at half of its value, and as a
result she had proceeded to court. In presenting the
case to court she had incurred expert witness fees
in the amount of $110.
The complainant's car was hit as it stood parked by
the side of the road. The Corporation offered $500
as indemnity for the loss of the vehicle but the
complainant disputed the adequacy of this amount.
She subsequently litigated the matter and the Small
Claims Court awarded $955 for the car and court
costs. This amount was paid by the Corporation;
however,   the   expert   witness   fees  were i ■
The Corporation was notified of my intention to
vestigate, and the problem was reviewed by I.C.B I
This person's complaint was rectified when theC -
poration decided that although the fees were 11
included in the judgement, it would accept respor
bility for these additional costs. A cheque for I
expenses was issued to the complainant. I
CS 80-090
Finding a $1,500 error
A vehicle owned by the complainant was damag
in what was later determined to be arson, or
accidental fire started by someone in the process
siphoning gas. As a result of the fire, the compla
ant lost his fleet deferral. The complainant felt tf
the inclusion of Comprehensive losses in a flee
loss ratio was unfair.
Upon receipt of notification from the Ombudsmc
the Corporation reviewed the complainant's fileB'i
noted that, besides the subject of complaint, I
error had been made in the calculation of tl
charge. As a result, the fleet deferral loss wi
The Corporation advised the insured that no furth
penalty would be assessed for additional paymen
which were made for the loss. Furthermore, a no
retroactive regulatory amendment was to be mat
that Comprehensive losses would no longer be i
eluded in a fleet loss ratio, and this would apply to i
motorists in the Province.
The Motor Carrier Commission was the subja
of relatively few complaints in 1980. In a number i
complaints received against the Commission, app
cants alleged delay in adjudication of appliciOT
Complaints against the Commission generally co
sist of an allegation that it has unfairly denied i
application for a commercial licence to haul gooc
of various kinds.
CS 80-091
Federal or Provincial Regulation?
A man who had moved his household goods froi
Vancouver Island to Ontario complained of an e:
cessive ferry surcharge levied by the carrier, base
on the weight of the shipment. He felt that inasmuc
as the surcharge purported to relate to extra e:
penses incurred by the carrier as a result of the us
 erry, it should not be based on the weight of
complainant's move was from one province
mr, the Commission advised my office that it
rBontrol over the rates charged by the moving
m However, the Commission agreed that in
jnplainant's case the ferry surcharge was
Ito resolve the problem of possible excessive
;, I suggested to the Commission that it
h maximum weight upon which ferry sur-
Ecould be calculated. Using this method, a
¥1 the complainant's position would not be
m for moving an unusually large amount of
|he Commission accepted my proposal and
|v tariffs which apply to household goods
jThe tariffs provide for an 8,000-pound maxi-
ibn which the surcharge may be levied.
jhg up thiiSeonnplaint at the federal level, my
ator discovered that the Motor Carrier Corn-
has in fact been delegated the Federal Govt's responsibility for regulating motor carriers
[provinces. Although it is empowered to
llextraprovincial carriers, the Commission
lido so, as agreement among all provinces
le required for such regulation to be practi-
[B the situation which was brought to my
Ii by the complainant has been rectified with
i:to the movement of household goods within
mce, but the problem remains respe]|fin|yl
■uncial movements.
|:e to deliver shampoo
11 in a rural area complained that the Com-
liefused to issue a temporary permit to oper-
iight vehicle on the grounds that other carri-
■ravailable to perform the same service
i\e intended to provide. The complainant
£ the fact that she would be offering the
svice and claimed that, unlike other carriers,
aied to offer a carrier service specifically for
Mty supply industry.
■ance with the Commission's normal proce-
Ma carriers had been contacted and asked
■mnot they could supply a sen/ice similar to
Broposed by the complainant. My staff con-
Hacarriers independently and obtained fur-
ails of the service which they could supply.
Hffiiply houses were also contacted and it
Ad that although the existing carriers could
HlBplies from the warehouse to the beauty
.is service was dependent upon the suppli-
tlr paying for packaging of articles or
Bmhem at the warehouse. The suppliers
|: ated that they were very interested in the
■Bervice offered by the complainant as she
■Sialize in the delivery of beauty supplies
and would not require additional packaging of the
articles to be delivered.
The Commission provided my staff with details of its
policy on the granting of temporary permits as well
as its in^stigation report. Shortly after this material
was received by my office, the complainant was
contacted by the Motor Carrier Brancfr'and informed
that her application was being reinvestigated. A
short time later, the complainant's application was
granted by the Motor Carrier Branch. As this complaint was resolved by the Commission, investigation was discontinued.
Complaints involving the Workers' Compensation Board required a major portion of my staff's
time. Most of these complaints were initiated by
workers whose claims for compensation were not
accepted by the Board, or by workers who felt the
benefits they received should be greater. I have also
received complaints from employers, who feel that
they were improperly assessed by the Board.
In many of the complaints workers have not
exercised their right to appeal a decision on their
claim to a board of review, the Commissioners, or a
Medical Review Panel. In these situations, I am precluded by section 11(1)(a) of the Ombudsman Act
from investigating, and I have referred complainants
to other agencies for assistance with the appeal
process. They were advised, however, that should
they be dissatisfied with the manner in which their
appeal was decided, they could contact my office
I was seriously concerned about W.C.B. claimants being unaware of and not being properly informed of their appeal rights and I initiated an investigation of this matter on my own motion. My staff
surveyed information given to claimants by Workers'
Compensation Boards in other jurisdictions, and prepared a report which I have presented to the Commissioners, with five possible recommendations
which follow from it. As a result of my initial contact
with the Board on this investigation, the Commissioners have begun to send out pamphlets containing appeal information along with decisions made by
legal officers at the Board. The other possible recommendations deal with the publication of the pamphlets in other languages, the sufficiency of information given to'claimants about their appeal rights in
W.C.B. decision letters    nd related issues.
I sincerely appreciated that during the year,'the
Board extended a considerable amount of time and
effort apprising my staff of the complex policies and
procedures it uses to administer applications. As my
staff become more familiar with the policies and
 procedures of the Board, I hope to become more
effective in identifying and eliminating unfairness in
the system. As the judicial system has almost no
supervisory role or authority over the Board, I feel a
special responsibility to ensure that individual grievances are given proper consideration, and that the
system itself is administratively fair.
The Commissioners wear two hats. Not only are
they responsible for the proper operation of their
organization, but they also serve as a quasi-judicial
appellate body to adjudicate appeals from an independent appeal board. When I have discovered an
injustice in a decision following a complaint, the
Commissioners have responded that they do not
wish to consider the merits of the case unless the
aggrieved worker appeals to them in their judicial
In refusing to take the responsibility for correcting injustices which are bound to occur in such a
large organization, and for suggesting that workers
should embark on the time-consuming process of
instituting formal appeals so that the evidence can
be presented in a different procedural format, the
Board is taking a very bureaucratic approach. In my
view the Board has the power and the duty to correct errors in the most expeditious manner and to
use procedures appropriate to the problem.
On a positive note, I am pleased that the Commissioners have implemented several of my recommendations. Below, I have summarized both typical
and unusual complaints concerning the Board, as
well as cases where my recommendations have
been implemented.
At a time when the public's attention is fo-
cussed on the injured and disabled, it is appropriate
that my office play an active role in the International
Year of Disabled Persons. In 19811 hope to increase
my involvement and impact upon the Board, both in
rectifying unfair decisions in specific cases and in
monitoring the functioning of the system. In the interest of justice and fairness I ask for the Board's full
CS 80-093
Determining future loss of earnings
A major British Columbia union contacted my office
on behalf of a worker and complained that although
he was awarded a pension following the loss of one
arm in an industrial accident, the amount of the
pension was not based on his earnings at the time of
his injury.
My staff obtained full details of the worker's employment history and discovered that although he had an
irregular work history, there was reason to believe
that he would have continued working at the job he
held when injured.
Pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act, the
Board may choose among several methods in calcu
lating a worker's average earnings for wage loss
pension purposes. The method used should be'
one which best reflects the actual loss of earnir
suffered by the worker. In this case, the Board o
eluded that the worker's average earnings sho
be calculated on the basis of his earnings ovfi
three years prior to his injury. The worker, an
man in his twenties, had been incarcerated for s
eral months during this three-year period, and t
worked sporadically for the rest of the time.f|
On the basis of my findings, I decided that
complaint was substantiated. The Board's chcB
method for calculating the complainant's awi
earnings was unjust. The Board had failed to app
statutory provision properly which requires that
benefit of the doubt be given to the injured wor
where the disputed possibilities are evenly t
anced. In view of the worker's youth, and in
absence of any evidence that he would not hi
continued in his last job, I recommended that
pension be increased from the minimum penSfr
the maximum pension.
The Board implemented my recommendation,
complainant's pension has been reassessed! (\
he has been awarded a pension retroactive to
date of the injury.
CS 80-094
Roadblocks to obtaining a decision
on the merits
A worker who had injured his leg in 1972 complain
that his claim for compensation had been reject
He alleged that the Commissioners unfairlyqenl
his application for an extension of time in wpfcl"!
appeal to them.
Although the worker notified the CommiSlj|
within the required 60 days of his intention to app
the board of review decision, he was not a un
member and had not obtained the support oi
union as required. One month after the Board-
formed the complainant of this requirement, he)
tained a lawyer to assist him in appealing the boj
of review decision. During the next year, the §
plainant and his lawyer were unable to obtain j
necessary union support. Eventually, the lawyer j
plained to the complainant that it was not part of j
role as a lawyer to assist his client in obtajiinl
union's support for his appeal. Finally, the compl 1
ant approached the Compensation Consultant's]
fice (Ministry of Labour) for assistance in appeal
to the Commissioners. That office was able to ob i
union support for the appeal and an application i j
made to the Commissioners for an extension of t-J
for the appeal. The Commissioners denied this -
quest on the basis that his delay was unreasona j
The requirement that a worker obtain union supi
when appealing a unanimous board of review d 1
sion has since been removed from the stape. I
 the complaint to be substantiated. Although
bard had granted the complainant one time
Iron which he was unable to meet, the com-
m had not acted unreasonably in attempting
Hh union support. His actions in attempting to
ie statutory requirement were a more relevant
gration than the actual length of time which
apsed. I recommended that the Commission-
it the complainant's request for an extension
SThe Commissioners implemented my rec-
ffiation and agreed to hear the complainant's
[on its merits.
to have been hit by the next driver!
Briver complained that although his claim for
Igsation following a motor vehicle accident
lien accepted by the Board, the amount of
liss he was receiving was insufficient to cover
Itthly expenses. He felt that since he had been
[by a driver of another motor vehicle who was
Ifcntly convicted of a provincial motor vehicle
11, he should at least be compensated for the
■Bint of his lost wages.
lit to the Workers' Compensation Act, a
Ifhjured by another worker does not have the
|ht to sue in court. This rule applies even
Iboth parties have automobile insurance with
I The complainant was only entitled to "maxi-
lage loss payments" and not to the usual
Ibile insurance benefits. These payments
Ir below the amount he was earning on a
t basis in his employment, as "maximum"
b ss is defined as only 75 percent of a speci-
ilar figure.
sears ago in British Columbia, workers in the
anant's position were entitled either to sue
lir worker for damages, or to claim compen-
Btnder the Workers' Compensation Act.
Ir, the right to sue was removed by an
Bient in 1974.
ions passed pursuant to the Insurance (Mo-
Bcle) Act provide that l.C.B.C. is not obliged
[accident benefits where the claimant is enti-
oompensation under the Workers' Compen-
fijict and is receiving compensation above a
nn amount. For this reason, the complainant
H) not entitled to benefits from l.C.B.C.
B-implainant received the amount of compen-
o; was entitled to under the Workers' Com-
ain Act, I reluctantly found his complaint to
Substantiated. I would, however, like to bring
BJ5:er to the Legislative Assembly's attention.
it complainant been hit by a different driver
ph> not in the course of his employment the
tt/ould have been substantially higher. Alii'there are two comprehensive insurance
IJi (W.C.B. and l.C.B.C.) the injured driver re-
sdenefits only from the W.C.B. which results in
less compensation in some cases than would be
received from l.C.B.C. During 1981 I intend to discuss this problem with representatives of both insurance plans in order to see whether this anomaly can
be resolved.
CS 80-096
Natural degeneration or injury?
The Board refused to accept the complainant's
compensation claim. The complainant alleged that
her continuing back and shoulder problems related
to a lifting incident at work.
There existed X-ray evidence of spinal disc degeneration and tendonitis in the right shoulder which predated the work injury by eight years. There was also
the attending physician's evidence that over the
previous eight years the complainant had consulted
him on various occasions regarding back and shoulder complaints. The complainant did not see her
physician regarding her back and shoulder condition until a week after the injury and she did not
mention that the symptoms might be work-related
until two months after the injury. The Board concluded that while the complainant may have had some
immediate aggravation of pain at work, her continuing complaints were attributable to the degenerative
conditions which were present before her work injury. The Board did not feel that she should be compensated for aggravation of her condition as she
had continued to work one week after the injury.
I concluded that the Board's decision was arrived at
in a fair manner as there was insufficient evidence
that the complainant's continuing problems related
to her work injury. I found the complaint not
CS 80-097
Responsibility in the community
The Board refused to loan a piece of gas detection
equipment to a specialist acting on behalf of a tenant who required scientific evidence of excess carbon monoxide levels in her apartment.
The tenant alleged that a faulty furnace in her unit
emitted dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and
that this had been compounded by the installation of
a thick new carpet which reduced circulation of
fresh air. She needed an ecolyzer to ascertain
whether the concentration of carbon monoxide
posed a health hazard. She also heard that
ecolyzers are rare. A Simon Fraser University professor, who offered to operate the ecolyzer, requested
that the Board permit him to carry out the test with
their unit, the only one q the Province of which he
was aware. The Board refused on the grounds that
the Board exists to carry out the purposes of its
governing statutes, and the statute does not confer
on the Board any wide ranging authority to perform
 any function it believes is beneficial to society.
The Board uses the ecolyzer for its own purposes
and has received many requests to borrow it for
private purposes which could conflict with its main
purpose. A Board official would have to be present
when the ecolyzer was used privately to ensure its
proper use. The Board did not wish to become involved as an expert witness in any action by tenant
against landlord, or in a negligence suit. The Board
stated that this rationale extended to other rare
equipment owned by the Board.
My staff located a private firm which owned an
ecolyzer and was willing to perform the test and to
supply an operator without charge. It turns out that
ecolyzers are not as rare as the complainant
originally believed. I am still of the opinion, however,
that the Board has some public responsibility, if it
possesses extremely rare equipment, to permit
members of the public access to it in certain
If the issue arises again in the future and I am not
able to obtain an alternative source for a piece of
rare scientific equipment, I intend to pursue the matter further.
CS 80-098
Deciphering the governing statute
The wife of a deceased worker complained that she
had been unfairly denied widow's benefits by the
The Board had failed to consider the appropriate
sections of the Workers' Compensation Act in deciding the widow's claim for benefits.
Although the woman appeared to have a valid complaint, it was unnecessary for me to make a recommendation as the Board agreed with my staff that a
particular provision of the Act had not been considered in deciding the widow's claim. The Board
agreed to reinterpret the statute and reconsider her
claim using the relevant section of the Act.
CS 80-099
Double coverage
An independent contractor complained that after he
applied for temporary optional coverage from the
Board, he did not receive confirmation that his application had been accepted and he concluded that
coverage was not in effect. When he began receiving assessment notices approximately six months
later, he tried to cancel his coverage by visiting the
local Board office, and then by writing and phoning
the Board with his request. Despite these efforts, his
coverage was not cancelled until approximately 18
months after his original application.
After extensive investigation, it was found that in at
least four instances of attempted communication
there was no way of establishing whether it waai
complainant or the Board who was at faultjfi
Board stated that once the complainant's adf
tion for coverage was received, his coverage coi
be cancelled only by a written request. Althougjfl
contractor stated that he had written a cancelji
letter to the Board neither he nor the Board m
verify this claim. The complainant swore an affffl
to the effect that he had visited a Board office
order to cancel his coverage six months afteS
original application.
In order to resolve this complaint I suggested tl
the complainant should be assessed paymentsjq
period of six months only, and not for the entire
month period. The Board agreed to this reconfnJ
dation and relieved the complainant of the a*e
ments levied against him for the period after raffl
to the local Board office.
CS 80-100
Piercing the corporate veil (sometimes)
The principal of a small company was involved ii
serious accident while at work approximately c
month after incorporation of the company. As a
suit of the accident the complainant lost an eye a
claimed compensation. His claim was denied on I
basis that his company had not registered as
employer with the Board, although the Board bill
the company retroactively for unpaid assessme
to the date of incorporation.
Another man complained to me that soon after
one-man firm incorporated, he was required by t
Board to pay assessments. He objected to the
payments on the grounds that he did not emp
anyone in his business, and he preferred covera
under a private insurance scheme to the covera
offered by the Board.
To be eligible for compensation for a work-relatj
injury the Workers' Compensation Act does n
require that a worker's employer is registered w
the Board nor that the employer's assessments i
up-to-date. The Board explained that the firaPj
plainant had been refused compensation as he vJ
essentially employed by himself, although legally t
company was his employer and he was a work
The Board decided that when a claimant is respor
ble for the nonpayment of assessments and faili
to register, no •compensation will be paid to him. j
unincorporated independent operator may opt j
coverage but such coverage is not mandatory (aj
is in the case of a firm which employs staff).
In the case of the second complaint, the Board h
taken the position that on incorporation the co
pany becomes the employer, and anyone who
paid wages by the company is regarded as a work
Thus, although the complainant's actual sttuati
was no different after incorporation than before,
was required by the Board to pay assessments.
 analysing these two complaints (and several
complaints) I concluded that the Board's poli-
m respect to its treatment of companies is
istent. On the one hand it ignores the fact of
iwation and adjudicates a claim on the actual
! of the business in order to deny compensa-
)n the other hand it refuses to acknowledge
raial setup, and relies on the legal diSBnction
en a company and its employees, even where
me person is the company's sole principal and
Bployee, in order to collect assessments. In
pon the Board was making an arbitrary disjoin deciding when to "pierce the corporate
Kilt that the Board should decide which policy
ed to follow but that it must be consistent,
ffiiended that the Board review its treatment
Banies in order to eliminate the inconsistency.
JBRimissioners agreed to reconsider their poli-
ISmpanies. Acceptance of this recommenda-
IBnally would have concluded my involvement
[case. As yet, I have not beentftptified of the
1 of this review and I intend to monitor the
I se to see that a rational and consistent policy
■rial Disease
f who had worked in grain elevators for 12
lomplained that he had developed a condition
Ito leukemia as a result of exposure to insecti-
lind fumigants used in grain. The Board re-
[o compensate him for this condition.
>t:f reviewed literature which the complainant
ltd supported his compensation claim. The
was also discussed with several physicians.
ii the literature nor the physicians could sup-
Is complainant's contention that the chemi-
j3d on the grain led to his medical condition,
ie was no medical evidence to support the
binant's belief I found his complaint not
sznan who had recently purchased a
st-sing business complained that the Board
pi ed to collect a debt from her which had been
rf'l by the former owner of the business,
bnplainant had purchased the assets of a
py whose assessment payments were in ar
rears at the time of the purchase. Pursuant to s.52(1)
of the Workers' Compensation Act, the Board has
a lien with respect to all property used by an employer in the business in respect of which the debt was
incurred. In other words, the Board had the right in
this case to seize the property which the complainant had purchased from the vendor in order to satisfy the vendor's debt.
This complaint was not substantiated but it was
resolved after discussions with the Board's Collection Department which decided not to pursue the
complainant for the debt.
CS 80-103
Towing or Trucking — that is the question
A businessman complained that his business had
been incorrectly reclassified by the Board's-Assess-
ment Department. By reclassifying the company
from "towing" to "trucking", the Board caused an
884 percent increase in his assessment costs.
The Assessment Department places businesses in
established classes and subclasses which contain
the same or similar businesses. The complainant's
business had previously been classified as towing.
The Board decided that it more closely resembled
trucking, and the business was reclassified
My assistant inquired into the classification of similar
businesses by Workers' Compensation Boards in
Alberta and Ontario and the classification of similar
competing businesses in British Columbia. A number of other firms were contacted to determine how
the Board applies the definition of the two classes.
I concluded that the Board had acted properly in
reclassifying the business and found the complaint
not substantiated.
CS 80-104
The appropriate route to appeal
The complainant disagreed with a recent decision of
a claims adjudicator that his disability award for
silicosis should commence only in 1980. He felt that
it should be retroactive to the date when X-rays first
showed he had signs of silicosis.
As the complainant still had available to him a right of
appeal to the board of review I referred him to the
Compensation Advisory Services. This is a branch of
the Ministry of Labour and is independent of the
Board. The branch assists workers who wish to appeal a Board decision. They will be assisting the
complainant with an appeal to the board of review.
claimed, or where an emergency requireJM
mediate action;
Universal Press Syndicate
A substantial number of complaints have been
made against individuals or authorities that I am not
empowered to investigate. These grievances run
the gamut from frivolous private concerns to instances of grave injustice. I have been asked to
overturn court decisions, to ensure that brown eggs
are not put in cartons clearly marked "white eggs",
and to free people from legally binding contracts.
Over the past year I developed several approaches to dealing with non-jurisdictional
(1) My office is constantly working to accumulate
information about referral sources that can
provide the assistance required to resolve
(2) A large number of complainants have been
successfully referred to government agencies able to deal with the grievance (consumer transactions to the Ministry of Consumer &
Corporate Affairs, landlord-tenant disputes to
the Rentalsman's office, etc.). Others were
referred for help to their M.L.A., M.P or a
community assistance group;
(3) I have attempted to resolve a number of complaints on an informal basis, in particular,
where there does not appear to be any authority prepared to handle that problem, or
those against an authority listed in the Schedule to the Ombudsman Act but not pro-
(4) Many complaints received from the Native
Indian population of British Columbia concerr
non-jurisdictional agencies, particularism
Federal Government. I am fortunate tojHjj
on my staff the only Native Indian investigjEi
in a Canadian Ombudsman office, a fonflel
judge of the Citizenship Court, and I have
made an effort to resolve those federal complaints where possible.
While some agencies have given my office don-
siderable assistance, others have been
uncooperative and unreasonable. I have received
a number of complaints over the past year directed against authorities listed in the schedule to the
Ombudsman Act but not yet proclaimed in foBe.
The following cases are just a small sample of the
types of non-jurisdictional complaints I have received and the ways in which my staff and I have
dealt with them. To save space and costs I fjp
listed only a few such cases.
CS 80-105
A property owner in a senior citizens' mobile
home park complained that a municipality Was
interfering in the resale of the residents' property
by demanding increased land value prices of the
new owners.
Residents in the mobile home subdivision had
granted the municipality a "right to repurchase
clause in the event of a resale. The residents
stated that they were informed the municiSty
needed the control in order to ensure that the
new owners were senior citizens. The municipality claimed that the purpose of the clause hac
been to allow for land value reappraisal, with any
increase in value to be approved by the municipality. All attempts to resolve the deadlock, including meetings before council, had beer
I outlined my detailed understanding of the com
plaint and asked both the mayor and the Mirltei
of Municipal Affairs for their cooperation and as
sistance in resolving the complaint. At the end ol
 |i, however, the problem remained unsolved. I
Inue to monitor the developments.
insing Illegal Suites
■owner of a five-plex located in a municipality
Bplained that upon sale of his building, he
Id not transfer a business licence he had been
lired to buy. Nor could he obtain a refund for
■Inused portion of the year.
jj complainant had learned that three of his
Is were illegal and that he would be required
My a business licence to operate them under a
Intly enacted municipal bylaw. Two months
Ireurchasing a one-year licence the complain-
liold his five-plex. He was unable to obtain a
Bid for the remaining 10-month period and
[unable to transfer the licence to the new
Bsr. Then the new owner was also required to
la new business licence to operate the suites,
■municipality was being paid twice for licens-
gne same premises.
assistant contacted officials of the municipal-
tind the Minister of Municipal Affairs. As a
st of these contacts three issues were
Whether it is possible for new purchasers to
Hay a nominal transfer fee;
m/hether it is possible for the municipality to
Biake refunds upon such a transfer fee; and
m/hether the municipality should be licensing
egal suites.
lousiness licence bylaw was amended so that
pisfer of licences could be made for a minimal
complainant did not wish to pursue his complaint
with the Law Society for fear of incurring another
billing from the lawyer.
My assistant confirmed with the Law Society that
a lawyer should not charge for the time spent
responding to a complaint and convinced the
complainant to pursue his complaint directly with
the Society.
CS 80-108
Unemployment Insurance Commission
An unemployed worker complained that she was
not receiving benefits and considerable time had
elapsed since her initial application for U.I.C.
benefits when the complainant's employer went
bankrupt. A separation slip could not be obtained
from the bankrupt employer. Before the claim
could be processed, the complainant became ill
and applied to U.I.C. for the claim to be changed
to sick benefits.
My office contacted the U.I.C. officer involved
and discovered that Revenue Canada had yet to
make a determination of insurable weeks. My
office also contacted a lawyer at a community
legal clinic and he agreed to help the complainant. The complainant later advised my office that
the lawyer was able to help her successfully appeal an assessed disqualification period, and she
received benefits.
.Minister of Municipal Affairs decided to bring
:x e matter of refunds before the Municipal Act
LV3w Committee, as there is presently no statu-
ppower for such refunds,
mnunicipality explained that because of acute
ping shortages and the lack of success by
ft municipalities in closing down illegal suites,
liicil chose to legalize such suites on a tempo-
sioasis. Considerable emphasis was put on
.lading safety features.
uLaw Society of British Columbia
iflint of a lawyer complained to the Law Soci-
:yoncerning his lawyer's actions. As a conse-
pce, the lawyer included in his account a time
pje for the extra work necessitated because
pt; complaint. The extra work was for the time
iSred by the lawyer to respond to the Society.
as;lient complained about this to me and also
wt the Society's conduct of the matter. The
CS 80-109
Federal Income Tax
A worker complained that the Federal Income Tax
Department had recently advised him that if he
did not produce his 1978 T-4 slip, he would have to
pay again the income tax which had already been
deducted from his wages. The complainant was
not successful in obtaining his 1978 T-4 slip from a
former employer, who had since declared
After many phone calls my assistant was able to
locate the trustee in bankruptcy, who had a copy
of the complainant's T-4 slip.
CS 80-110
Canada Student Loans
A young woman who recently moved here from
Alberta was unable to obtain a student loan. The
B.C. division of Canada Student Loans rejected
 her application because she did not meet
residency requirements. Alberta would not grant
a provincial loan unless she could demonstrate
specific reasons why she was completing the
program in B.C. The complainant needed the loan
immediately. Some $1,800 was due the next day.
The complainant appeared to be caught in a
Catch 22 situation between provincial and federal
loan programs. My assistant made several phone
calls to the agencies during the day and discovered that the Alberta agency could make a federal loan provided that it had proof that the school
was certified in B.C. My assistant pointed out that
the complainant had already furnished such
At the request of my staff the Alberta agency
processed the application that day and immediately issued an $1,800 cheque enabling the student to stay enrolled in school.
CS 80-111
Private Insurance Company
The complainant alleged that he had been unable
to obtain the release of a cheque for fire damage
to his home. The complainant had been caught in
a circular web travelling between Legal Aid, his
private insurance company, C.M.H.C, a private
mortgage company and a firm of insurance adjusters, a lawyer, his M.L.A.'s constituency office
and others.
The complainant had settled with an insurance
company and signed a release after fire extensively damaged his home. He did not have the
necessary repair work performed by a contractor
and hoped to do it himself. His insurance company, however, sent the cheque to the mortgagee
of the premises, who could not release the money
without the approval of C.M.H.C, which would
not approve the release of the funds until the
work had been completed in a satisfactory
The complainant had settled for an amount insufficient to complete the work satisfactorily. As he
was unemployed, he was unable to finance the
repairs himself. The complainant spent more than
a year in a frustrating attempt to find a way to
resolve this dilemma before coming to my office
The only solution to the problem appeared to be
to return the complainant to his original position
when the fire occurred and to have the insurance
company finance the cost of the repairs.
The private insurance company, Fireman's Fund,
in an outstanding gesture of goodwill towards my
office, agreed to tear up the original signed release and to negotiate a new settlement. Over a
per.od of several months my staff were able to
facilitate negotiations between all of the parties
involved in this complex problem. In the end the
insurance company paid a contractor to repair a
substantial part of the premises and in addition
advanced a sum of cash to the complainant!
greatly appreciated the assistance of the insffi
ance company in resolving this compiM
CS 80-112
Travel Agency
A foreign visitor, the victim of a scam, complairffl
that his airplane ticket had been cancelled by til
airline when it was discovered that the ticket vffl
someone else's nontransferable charter c\tm
ticket. The complainant had made return flraH
arrangements through a local travel agent, but
the agent had since sold the agency and quitffl
business. In addition Canada Immigration hS
already extended the complainant's visa once
and he knew that a further visa extension™
quired proof of confirmed passage on a retoB
flight. As the extended visa had just lapsed, tffl
complainant was concerned about deportatiffl
Purchasing another ticket posed a significant
nancial difficulty.
My staff contacted the former agency owner as
well as the present proprietor of the agencyS!
neither would assume responsibility. The agent
and agency were not members of the Travel
Agents Association of B.C. The Associatffi
therefore could not help. Since the return B
ticket had been paid for out-of-province, the cSS
plainant could not claim against the Travel Asja|
ance Fund. My staff requested the assistancS
the Consumer Centre, a branch of the MinistraH
Consumer and Corporate Affairs, and it agreed to
The complainant was then provided with a letter
to confirm that I was assisting him on a prioffl
basis. With the letter, he was able to obtain aWA
days' grace on his expired visa. Through the^
sistance of the Consumer Centre, the airliners
ranged for the complainant to return home on
another flight.
CS 80-113
Housing problems
The complainant brought his problem to my attention during my visit to his community. He had
bought a house on a reserve approximately tlffi
years ago, through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (C.M.H.C), but had discovered
defects in the flooring almost immediately. "^
contractor had made cursory attempts to repair
the floors, but the problem persisted and the
complainant did not succeed in having it corrected by either the builder or C.M.H.C. He wanted
me to investigate the matter.
The Ombudsman Act does not give me the authority to investigate federal Crown corporations
 ch as C.M.H.C. However, my assistant made
Be inquiries on behalf of the complainant and
iad that the contractor/builder was licensed
ySthe New Home Warranty Program of B.C.
Bcomplainant was referred to that program.
inada Customs
iminicipal art gallery bringing in an item for a
Bah-long exhibition encountered difficulty with
[Bada Customs. They ruled that the piece of art
Hestion was in fact not an object of art. Cus-
K would not allow the piece to be brought into
lada duty-free (as art) but insisted on levying
an assessment of $800 on it as a mirror. An official
of the art gallery complained to my office.
As the matter concerned the Federal Government I referred the gallery representative to the
Member of Parliament in his area. The M.R was
successful in resolving the matter as the item was
allowed into Canada on a temporary permit. However, the issue of what constitutes an object of art
was not resolved. The temporary permit only circumvented the dispute.
Fortunately, through the M.R's involvement, the
public will be able to judge for itself whether or not
the item in question was an object of art during its
month of exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery.
BLUE, BIRD, 1972 by Sherry Grauer   PHOTO by Ambos Photo Design
    sMinistry of Attorney General agreed to take
Htional steps to ensure that acquisitions of
Bperty by the Ministry of Transportation and
Bfiways for highways purposes, are indicated
ffiie titles of all lands affected. (CS 80-005)*
iBDirector of Land Titles, Ministry of Attorney
Bjeral, agreed to issue a policy directive to all
id registrars advising them that under section
;d) of the Builders Lien Act, a summary proce-
S is available to registrars to discharge build-
ffliens where appropriate (i.e., where the regis-
mscertains that the claim of the lien has been
.isfied). (CS 80-006)
jaMinistry of Attorney General agreed to re-
iw its policy of notifying parties to a Small
Irons Court action of their right to appeal the
lip's decision. I was recently advised that the
Ifery had completed its review and would post
Irotice outlining these rights and the requisite
lg limitations in all Small Claims Courts.
15 Rentalsman was advised of a procedure
fich will assist, in future, the serving of Bench
■Bants where parties to a dispute have ignored
I Rentalsman's Order to repay a security de-
l;it and failed to appear in Court. Tenants, or
lers, can supply the police directly with the
Idlord's address for personal service.
■fflvlinistry of Environment issued a policy direc-
i - to its staff to clarify Ministry policy on guides
■Swish to take a leave of absence from guiding
lies so that they would not have to pay for a
Ince or liability insurance. (CS 80-016)
BaMinistry of Rnance agreed to revise and ex-
5 id the instructional materials used by mem-
bs of the Courts of Revision in order to give
lm guidelines on matters of procedural fair-
IJs. (CS 80-028§yI
HjMinistry of Rnance agreed to add notice of
H provision of appeal of Social Services Tax as-
Hsment to its new assessment notification
||i Medical Services Plan administrators agreed
Hlrop the requirement that a Canadian citizen
lender his U.S. Alien Registration card to the
I. authorities in order to qualify for coverage
I If r the Plan.
I lorector of Vital Statistics (Ministry of Health)
aa(3ed to revise procedures concerning cause
I j|ath information. The procedure was amend-
-(30 that individuals seeking information con-
kiiing the cause of a death will be advised of
ttl possibility of the Deputy Minister's authoriza-
tk to release such information. (CS 80-035)
w tmerical reference relates to the correspond-
ple summary reported in Part III of this Report.
10. The Medical Services Commission, in
cooperation with the Director of Government
Agencies, agreed to institute a service which
eliminates long-distance charges to persons
who seek access to information concerning
MSC and live outside the toll free areas of the
Province. This information will be included in a
revised Medical Services Plan brochure. Gov:
ernment Agents will contact the plan on behalf
of insured persons.
11. Ministry of Human Resources agreed to monitor
the statements of those recipients of Shelter Aid
for Elderly Renters (SAFER) who experienced
aEMficulties in understanding the policies and
procedures of the SAFER program.
12. The Ministry of Human Resources undertook to
correct payment delays when the correct information had been submitted albeit on the wrong
form. (CS 80-043)
13. The Ministry of Human Resources agreed to
clarify its policy concerning provision of orthodontic services for adults as there was confusion within the Ministry as to who was eligiBleH
14. The Ministry of Human Resources agreed to develop a standard notification of appeal rights to
be given to all applicants or recipients. It also
agreed to describe appeal rights in a pamphlet
to be distributed. The Ministry further agreed to
post a notice describing the right of appeal in all
district office waiting rooms. (CS 80-050)
15. The Ministry of Labour agreed to change the
forms and covering letters, sent pursuant to
Part 9 of the Employment Standards Act, so
that employers are properly advised of their legal position. Further, an amendment of the Act
will be considered in order to provide employers
with sufficient time to make representations to
the Board of Industrial Relations. (CS 80-054)
16. The Ministry of Lands Parks & Housing agreed
that applicants for the family first home grant
who had previously owned an unregistered mobile home, not sitting on land held in fee simple
by the applicant, should not be disqualified from
receiving a grant under the Home Purchase
Assistance Act. (CS 80-062)
17 The Ministry of Tourism issued a directive to its
offices clarifying government policy on the
transportation of firearms through the Province
and recalled brochures containing, misleading
18. The Ministry of Transportation and Highways
agreed to inform individuals posting bonds with
that Ministry of the disadvantage of interest loss
on cash depos. in relation to other forms of
security. (CS 80-074)/
19 The Ministry of Transportation and Highways
agreed to give information on appeal procedures to motor vehicle applicants who have
been refused a licence on medical grounds.
 20. The Ministry of Transportation and Highways
agreed to reverse a policy of refusing subdivision applications on irrelevant grounds in cases 25.
where the planning function is supposed to be
exercised by a municipal approving officer. (CS
21. The Agricultural Land Commission agreed to
amend its practice and to advise applicants for
subdivisions of the manner in which they could 26.
support    their   application   with    additional
22. B.C. Ferry Corporation' agreed to revise its procedures for investigating claims for compensation for damage to vehicles on B.C. Ferry Corporation vessels. The new procedures include an 27.
interview with the claimant, whenever practical,
and the giving of reasons to the claimant following a decision on the compensation claim. (CS
23. B.C. Hydro and Power Authority agreed to ex- 28.
pand its safety campaign for farm workers. (CS
24. B.C. Hydro agreed to amend and clarify advice
given to applicants under the Rural Electrification Assistance Program in order to avoid the
possibility that applicants would misconstrue
general estimates of costs as binding aHj
ments to install service at a set price. ■
The Motor Carrier Commission agreed I
amend its policy and fixed new tariffs in order I
set a maximum weight on which ferraH
charges can be levied for a person movin
household goods within the province.
(CS 80-091)
The Workers' Compensation Board agreed t
amend its procedure of not advising workcBi
their right to appeal decisions of Board legal o
ficers to the board of review. Future lettersffl
legal officers to workers will advise them of thi
right and the procedure to follow.
The Workers' Compensation Board agreed t
change its interpretation of a complicated stati
tory provision concerning benefits for wiaoM
and issued a directive to its staff for futur
The victoria office of the Workers' CompetiSE
tion Board agreed to inform persons wh^Hj
tacted the office for Medical Appeal Panagc
view forms to write directly to the Board'
Headquarters as the receipt of the reques
would be treated as complying with the|i^
tion period to apply.
I if the people who come to my office for assis-
liave been unhappy or frustrated with the re-
|)ne person wrote to me that complaining to
libudsman's office was like throwing eggs at a
Igrsons also wrote to express their apprecia-
lEssistance rendered. The uncle of a person
IMated wrote to thank me for helping a son
[a temporary absence pass to attend his fa-
luneral. A member of the public service wrote
less thanks for helping to resolve a difficult
In with her superannuation and added she
Irarly appreciated my staff's "human ap-
I and moral support at a time when I needed it
i jch".
IBen I am unable to be of assistance, citizens
Implain to me occasionally express their grati-
lat an independent examination of the policy
les has been made. In one complaint which
It substantiated the complainant wrote:
I Your staff has done a very excellent and
iomprehensive job in researching and gath-
\'ing together all the legal conpections and
Wwging them to a logical conclusion in this
matter. Furthermore, your efforts give a per-
'->n confidence that the citizens of B.C. if
liey feel being imposed upon by government bureaucracy can get a fair and reason-
\ile hearing of their concerns by your
Bowing was a complainant's parting shot to
IJistry before he came to my office. We later
il is letter on the Ministry file:
H am enclosing my cheque for $418.22
Which is the Home Owner Grant of $380.20
:us penalty interest.
piis payment is made under protest, and
ttther than argue with you obstinate bu-
Liaucrafs any longer, I will take my case to
lie Ombudsman, and you can waste his
Hne instead of mine."
brin mail... and some complaints about the
mhank you for your letter of March 10,1980
which to a considerable extent has restored
hay faith in human nature, at least insofar as
e public sector is concerned."
kf 'hank you very much for your prompt reply
mmy request for assistance regarding my
Ifther. I was very pleased to find my letter
pioduced such welcome results and I appre-
rJiited your looking into the situation of as-
e&'itance benefits awarded him and the fam-
I As of yet, the situation has not been
mmpletely resolved..."
'ou may get out your rubber stamps "File
a'osed" or "Successfully Completed" or
latever you use.
Uusf received my cheque for last year's
property tax grant. $380.00 plus a line of baloney from Vander Zalm.
I believe it was your letterhead that caused
the difference. The tax people reconsidel&cM
and allowed my application to go through
when your correspondence showed that I
wouldn't be bluffed.
Thanking you and wishing you a wonderful
"I would like'to take this opportunity to
thank you and the members of your staff for
the excellent service I received. You may recall that my mother has Aimeimer's Disease and was in need of a long term placement when I approached your office.
I was treated with suchWare and sensitivity
by a member of your staff that I immediately
felt I could trust her. What a relief after dealing with red tape and bulewmwmlsm
months. The information we received
helped us make a very difficuii decision. It
was comforting to know we had all the information available. Your staff's concern and
energy for the case exceeded all expeeraS
tions. If our case is an example of the kind of
work you do, then the Office of the Ombudsman provides an invaluable service."
Everyone thanks you for all your time and
effort helping us with our access problem.
The Passmore Logging Road has been
plowed up to % mile from our house, which
is a real relief. The Highways Department
says it will now keep the road open."
"Thank you for the assistance afforded to
me by your office and in particular the services of your assistant.
I would like you to note that I found her to be
professional and competent in dealing with
my enquiry
The net results have been positive, attributable in the most part to your office."
"In answer to the letter of Feb. 8 written by
your Senior Investigator I would say he is a
damn poor investigator sounds like a Lawyer that don't know what he is talking about.
He is ridiculous. A neighbour sending the police and then sending the police and pound
keeper out on false charges is not a private
dispute between neighbours. For his information that is 'mlnal. What about forcing
people off a pub c road and then camquflag-i
ing that road as a private drive, way. Is that
private too? He recommends to speak to
the local elected couneg. Those double
crossers are not worth speaking to.
 If the Ombudsman Act does not empower
you to deal with problems like this then the
Ombudsman Act is unconscionable, discriminatory and useless. It protects the
criminals. I protest against such an act. Just
a waste of money..."
"I have your letter of July 3, 1980 which
probably crossed my letter of June 23, 1980
to you.
The proposed refund is indeed a satisfactory resolution of the complaint, and once
again on behalf of the beneficiaries of the estate I should like to thank you for your
succesful endeavours in coping with bureaucratic intransigence."
From New Zealand:
"/ have addressed this letter to you personally as I have received no communication
from your office since April, 1980 when you
advised that results might be expected from
an enquiry in a few weeks. The urgency of
the need to resolve my complaint of injustice
in being dismissed as a teacher you sensed
in your first communication to me.
A mistake has been make. Injustice has resulted. An Office has been created to remedy this type of occurrence. Yet nothing as
far as I am aware happens. It would be helpful, since your office has examined the material, to know whether I am working with a
organization that is supportive of me. And if
not supportive, what the problems are. It
would be helpful to have you reply to the last
paragraph of my letter to you of November
26. 1980. You will appreciate that being at a
distance, it was awkward for me if answers
are not forthcoming to do anything about
this, and that I may in last resort have to ask
others to make enquiries of you on my behalf. I have a responsibility to my family in
exile to push things to a resolution with all
urgency. Your early reply would be
My letter was in the mail and crossed paths with tl
probably in Hawaii or Rji!
"/ enclose a couple of my early letterM'. I
laughs if nothing else... its amazing how, j
reaction I've been able to stir up withWt \
thirty letters Mich as these. I must admfen I
the likelihood (?) of any innocent motoi:
being charged with contravening*] ]
B.C.M.V.A. is remote... but the pos-wl]
should not even exist!!
Thanks for your (latent) interest!
P.S. You're in the same league as thMpil
" Thank you for your January 28,1980 let
My phone conversation with your staff co
municated that they did not understsmA
objection to a system that is a monument
ignorance and infringes on basic riglmll
yond common sense.
You may be interested in our forthcomi\
book which will tell about so-called cMs\
vants' robot like movements through th\
chores in a setting where the key words a
"Thou Shalt Not Think."
Abraham Lincoln is quoted as say/ngJEh|
sin to be silent when it is your duty
Many more comments came to my staff and mys
in person or over the telephone. Some praiseraor
criticism, especially of the time it takes to inves
gate. The latter has to be acknowledged as ava
criticism in some cases. We sometimes get mc
credit than we deserve when a ministry alone andi
its own corrected the situation and sometimes \
get blamed for problems we are not responsible i
We get praise and criticism. Both are welcome
carefully evaluate the critical comments to help n
improve my service to the citizens of Briti
s of Complainants, and Complaints
d Between October 1979 and December 1980*
Public Servant
92.7-   ;
Aggrieved Party
M.L.A. & M.R
Public Servant
Idr'S gender
In Person
Not Applicable
25.7   1
Victoria Ombudsman Office
Vancouver Ombudsman Office
Local Visit
ables include 256 complaints reported "closed" in the First Annual Report.
f 21
Regional Districts
Cowichan Valley
East Kootenay
Capital Region
Fraser-Fort George
Central Fraser Valley
Greater Vancouver
Central Kootenay
Centra! Okanagan
Mount Waddington
20. North Okanagan
21. Central Coast
22. Okanagan-Similkameen
23 Peace River-Liard
24. Powell River
25. Skeena-Queen Charlotte
26. Squamish-Lillooet
27. Stikine Region (unincorporated)^
28. Sunshine Coast
29. Thompson-Nicola
entage of Complaints
ed by Regional District as of December 31, 1980
Regional Districts
Percentage of
Total B.C.
(Oct. 1980)
Percentage of
Total Ombudsman
Complaints Closed
(as of Dec. 31, 1980)
Elapital Region
lentral Fraser Valley
Kntral Kootenay
lentral Okanagan
Bwichan Valley
iast Kootenay
raser-Fort George
ireater Vancouver
i jtimat-Stikine
fount Waddington
Brth Okanagan
)entral Coast
gace River-Liard
wvell River
Reena-Queen Charlotte
i ftikine Region (unincorporated)
I unshine Coast
I,  Out-of-Province
lilry of Industry and Small Business, Central Statislics Bureau, Oct. 1980
Disposition of Complaints (Proclaimed Authorities)
Closed Between October 1979 and December 1980*
after Not
Investi- sub-
gation stantiated TOTAL
Agriculture and Food
Attorney General
Consumer & Corporate Affairs
Energy, Mines & Petro. Res.
Human Resources
Industry & Sm. Bus. Dev.
Intergovernmental Relations
Lands, Parks & Housing
Municipal Affairs
Premier's Office
Provincial Secretary
Transportation & Highways
Universities, Science & Tech.
 |3 (continued)
[Ids, commissions, etc
agricultural Land Commission
hlcohol and Drug Commission
iHC. Assessment Authority
I5.C. Assessment Appeal Brd.
Ifc. Bojtfd of Parole
kC. Buildings Corporation
i;C. Development Corporation
!|C. Energy Commission-
K. Ferry Corporation
i.C. Housing Corporation
liC. Hydro & Power Authority
I.C. Housing Management Com
Tl.       10
IO Marketing Board
KD. Police Commission
fc. Railway
C. Systems Corporation
iorporate and Financial
Services Commission
Ifedit Union Reserve Board
Irovernment Employee
1 Relations Bureau
Burance Corporation of B.C.
labour Relations Board
ieutenant Governor as
Mjniversitv Visitor
Kdical Services Commission
klotor Carrier Commission
Icean Falls Corporation
Bpvincial Adult Care
H Facilities Licensing Brd.
I^Bvincial Capital Commission
rovincial Child Care
R Facilities Licensing Brd.
i jblic Service Commission
pent Review Commission
bjperannuation Commission
Rrkers' Compensation Board
ll'CB Boards of Review
IA and B	
J includes 70 complaints reported "closed" in the First Annual Report.
Extent of Service
Complaints Against Unproclaimed Authorities
(Sections 3-11 Schedule of the Ombudsman Act)
Closed Between October 1979 and December 1980*
Extent of Service
No assistance
necessary or
made and
resolution ■
Municipalities (Section 4)
170    I
Regional Districts (Section 5)
Public Schools (Section 7)
Universities (Section 8)
Colleges & Provincial
Institutes (Section 9)
Hospitals and
Hospital Boards (Section 10)
Professional and Occupational
Associations (Section 11)
340   j
'This table includes 28 complaints reported "closed" in the First Annual Report.
Extent of Service
Non-Jurisdictional Complaints
Closed Between October 1979 and December 1980*
Extent of Service
No Assistance
necessary or
made and
Federal, other provincial
territorial and foreign
Marketplace matters—
requests for personal
Professionals' actions
Police matters
"This table includes 28 complaints reported "closed" in the First Annual Report.
ions for Discontinuing Investigations
jurisdictional Closed Complaints
Number Percent
>andoned by Complainant
thdrawn by Complainant
atutory Appeal (Section 11(1)(a))
ticitor (Section 11(1)(b))
scontinued by Ombudsman (Discretionary)
Over 1 year old 7
Insufficient personal interest 3
©ther available remedy 257
Erivolous 3
iivestigation unnecessary 82
Investigation not beneficial
p complainant 61
864 100%
1 of Impact
Eyed & Rectified (Jurisdictional) Complaints
lid Between October and December 1980
Level of Impact
Special Investigator
Administrative AssistaiU
Executive SecretaM
Specialist J
Administrative Law
Director of Investigations
2 Senior Investigators
4 Investigators
2 Complaints Analysts
6 Stenographers/
Director of Investigations
_2_Senior Investigators
4 Investigators
2 Complaints Analysts
5 Stenographers
   |ic service of the Province has been recep-
l responsive to the ideas my office must get
m. Without cooperation and help from mem-
the public service we cannot resolve com-
ffhe bureaucracy is often portrayed as the
sometimes they are but often they are not.
I learn to be specific and to differentiate.
m of the Legislative Assembly have main-
Eeir interest and continued their support for
Ombudsman institution. The Assembly may
work closely with me by establishing a Com-
ilat can scrutinize my reports.
My staff have kept up their devoted hard work and
improved the Ombudsman's efficiency tremendously in one year. Their work is clearly recognized
by the complainants, as is reflected in the comments presented in Part V.
My Canadian and United States Ombudsman colleagues were generous in passing on to me and my
staff their collective experience in Ombudsmanship
during a staff training conference in March 1980.
    |79 Ombudsman RS Chap. 306
[Part of Schedule to be proclaimed]
I 1. In this Act "authority" means an authority set out in the Schedule and
;Iudes members and employees of the authority.
ipointment of Ombudsman
12. (1) The Lieutenant Governor shall, on the recommendation of the Legislative
sembly, appoint as an officer of the Legislature an Ombudsman to exercise the
iwers and perform the duties assigned to him under this Act.
(2) The Legislative Assembly shall not recommend a person to be appointed
Bbudsman unless a special committee of the Legislative Assembly has unanimously
:ommended to the Legislative Assembly that the person be appointed.
rm of office
3.  (1) The Ombudsman shall be appointed for a term of 6 years and may be
wpointed in the manner provided in section 2 for further 6 year terms.
H (2) The Ombudsman shall not hold another office or engage in other employment.
l| 4. (1) The Ombudsman shall be paid, out of the consolidated revenue fund, a
[ary equal to the salary of a Supreme Court judge.
II (2) The Ombudsman shall be reimbursed for reasonable travelling and out of
l:ket expenses necessarily incurred by him in discharging his duties.
I 5. (1) Subject to subsections (2) to (5),. the Pension (Public Service) Act applies
Ime Ombudsman.
I (2) An Ombudsman who retires, is retired or removed from office after at least 10
*rs' service shall be granted an annual pension payable on or after attaining age 60.
(3) Where an Ombudsman who has served at least 5 years is removed from office
i: to physical or mental disability, section 19 of the Pension (Public Service) Act
lEes and he is entitled to a superannuation allowance commencing the first day of the
Iffih following his removal.
I (4) Where an Ombudsman who has served at least 5 years dies in office, section
Jbf the Pension (Public Service) Act applies and the surviving spouse is entitled to a
Kannuation allowance commencing the first day of the month following the death.
1 (5) Where calculating the amount of a superannuation allowance under this
RS Chap. 306 Ombudsman 28 Eliz. 2
(a) each year of service as Ombudsman shall be counted as 1 1/2 years of
pensionable service; and ■
(b) the number of years referred to in section 19 (1) (b) of the Pensiom
(Public Service) Act shall be multiplied by 1.5.
1977-58-2(7 to 11).
Resignation, removal or suspension
6. (1) The Ombudsman may at any time resign his office by written notice to the
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly or to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly if
there is no Speaker or if the Speaker is absent from the Province.
(2) On the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly, based on cause or
incapacity, the Lieutenant Governor shall, in accordance with the recommendation^
(a) suspend the Ombudsman, with or without salary; or
(b) remove the Ombudsman from his office.
(3) Where
(a) the Ombudsman is suspended or removed;
(b) the office of Ombudsman becomes vacant for a reason other than by*
operation of paragraph (f); or
(c) the Ombudsman is temporarily ill or temporarily absent for anotl^H
the Lieutenant Governor shall, on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly,
appoint an acting Ombudsman to hold office until
'(d) the appointment of a new Ombudsman under section 2;
(e) the end of the period of suspension of the Ombudsman;
(f) the expiry of 30 sitting days after the commencement of the next sessi™
of the Legislature; or
(g) the return to office of the Ombudsman from his temporary illness or
whichever occurs first.
(4) When the Legislature is not sitting and is not ordered to sit within the next 5
days the Lieutenant Governor in Council may suspend the Ombudsman from his officw
with or without'salary, for cause or incapacity, but the suspension shall not continue in
force after the expiry of 30 sitting days.
Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint acting Ombudsman
7. (1) Where
(a) the Ombudsman is suspended or removed; or
(b) the office of Ombudsman becomes vacant for a reason other than by
operation of subsection (2) (c),
when the Legislature is sitting but no recommendation under section 2 or 6 (3) is made
by the Legislative Assembly before the end of that sitting or before an adjournment of
the Legislature exceeding 5 days, or
(c) the Ombudsman is suspended or the office- of Ombudsman becomes
.   vacant when the Legislature is not sitting and is not ordered to sit wit^B 5 days; or
. (d) the Ombudsman is temporarily ill or temporarily absent for another
 ?79 Ombudsman RS Chap. 306
ie Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint an acting Ombudsman.
(2) The appointment of an acting Ombudsman under subsection (1) terminates
(a) on the appointment of a new Ombudsman under section 2;
(b) at the end of the period of suspension of the Ombudsman;
(c) immediately after the expiry of 30 sitting days after the day on which he
was appointed;
(d) on the appointment of an acting Ombudsman under section 6 (3); or
(e) on the return to office of the Ombudsman from his temporary illness or
hichever occurs first.
8. (1) Employees necessary to enable the Ombudsman to perform his duties
ay be appointed in accordance with the Public Service Act.
(2) For the purposes of the application of the Public Service Act to this section,
§ Ombudsman shall be deemed to be a deputy minister.
I  (3) The Ombudsman may exercise any power, authority or duty of the Public
irvice Commission that the commission may delegate under section 75 (3) of the
iblic Service Act.
I (4) The Ombudsman may make a special report to the Legislative Assembly
Sere he believes the
(a) amounts and establishment provided for the office of the Ombudsman in
the Estimates; or
(b) services provided to him by the Public Service Commission or the
Government Employee Relations Bureau
■inadequate to enable him to fulfil his duties.
I 9.  (1) Before beginning to perform his duties, the Ombudsman shall take an
ui before the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly that he will faithfully and impartially
Ita-cise the powers and perform the duties of his office, and that he will not, except
liere permitted by this Act, divulge any information received by him under this Act.
I (2) A person on the staff of the Ombudsman shall, before he begins to perform his
■ties, take an oath before the Ombudsman that he will not, except where permitted by
Is Act, divulge any information received by him under this Act, and for the purposes
ffiiis subsection the Ombudsman is a commissioner for taking affidavits for British
! (3) The Ombudsman and every person on his staff shall, subject to this Act,
Bitain confidentiality in respect of all matters that come to their knowledge in-the
Irformance of their duties under this Act.
(4) Neither the Ombudsman nor a person holding an office or appointment under
|; Ombudsman shall give or be compelled to give evidence in a court or in
Keedings of a judicial nature in respect of anything coming to his knowledge in the
IScise of his duties under this Act, except to enforce his powers of investigation,
Hnpliance with this Act or with respect to a trial of a person for perjury.
 RS Chap. 306 Ombudsman 28 EleS
(5) An investigation under this Act shall be conducted in private unless the
Ombudsman considers that there are special circumstances in which public knowledge
is essential in order to further the investigation.
(6) Notwithstanding this section, the Ombudsman may disclose or authorize!!
member of his staff to disclose a matter that, in his opinion, is necessary to I
(a) further an investigation;
(b) prosecute an offence under this Act; or
(c) establish grounds for his conclusions and recommendations made in a
report under this Act.
Powers and duties of Ombudsman in matters of administration
10.  (1) The Ombudsman, with respect to a matter of administration, on a
complaint or on his own initiative, may investigate
(a) a decision or recommendation made;
(b) an act done or omitted; or
(c) a procedure used
by an authority that aggrieves or may aggrieve a person.
(2) The powers and duties conferred on the Ombudsman may be exercised and
performed notwithstanding a provision in an Act to the effect that
(a) a decision, recommendation or act is final;
(b) no appeal lies in respect of it; or
(c) no proceeding or decision of the authority whose decision, recommends
tion or act it is shall be challenged, reviewed, quashed or called into
(3) The Legislative Assembly or any of its committees may at any time refer &
matter to the Ombudsman for investigation and report and the Ombudsman shall
(a) subject to any special directions, investigate the matter referred so fart»
it is within his jurisdiction; and
(b) report back as he thinks fit, but sections 22 to 25 do not apply in respe^
of an investigation or report made under this subsection.
Jurisdiction of Ombudsman
11.  (1) This Act does not authorize the Ombudsman to investigate a decision,
recommendation, act or omission
(a) in respect of which there is under an enactment a right of appeal or
objection or a right to apply for a review on the merits of the case to a
court or tribunal constituted by or under an enactment, until after that
right of appeal, objection or application has been exercised in the
particular case or until after the time prescribed for the exercise of that
right has expired; or
(b) of a person acting as a solicitor for an authority or acting as counsel to M
authority in relation to a proceeding.
(2) The Ombudsman may investigate conduct occurring prior to the commencement of this Act.
 Ip79 Ombudsman RS Chap. 306
(3) Where a question arises as to the Ombudsman's jurisdiction to investigate a
ase or class of cases under this Act, he may apply to the Supreme Court for a
eclaratory order determining the question.
lomplaint to Ombudsman
12. (1) A complaint under this Act may be made by a person or group of
(2) A complaint shall be in writing.
(3) Notwithstanding any enactment, where a communication written by or on
bhalf of a person confined in a federal or Provincial correctional institution or to a
gspital or facility operated by or under the direction of an authority, or by a person in
fe custody of another person for any reason, is addressed to the Ombudsman, it shaH
b mailed or forwarded immediately, unopened, to the Ombudsman by the person in
tiarge of the institution, hospital or facility in which the writer is confined or by the
erson having custody of the person; and a communication from the Ombudsman to
ach a person shall be forwarded to that person in a like manner.
efusal to investigate
\   13.  The Ombudsman  may refuse to  investigate or cease  investigating a
Snplaint where in his opinion
(a) the complainant or person aggrieved knew or ought to have known of the
decision, recommendation, act or omission to which his complaint refers
more than one year before the complaint was received by the
(b) the subject matter of the complaint primarily affects a person other than
the complainant and the complainant does not have sufficient personal
interest in it;
(c) the law or existing administrative procedure provides a remedy adequate
in the circumstances for the person aggrieved, and if the person
aggrieved has not availed himself of the remedy, there is no reasonable
justification for his failure to do so;
(d) the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, not made in good faith or concerns
a trivial matter;
(e) having regard to all the circumstances, further investigation is not
necessary in order to consider the complaint; or
(f) in the circumstances, investigation would not benefit the complainant or
person aggrieved.
nbudsman to notify authority
14.  (1) If the Ombudsman investigates a matter, he shall notify the authority
fected and any other person he considers appropriate to notify in the circumstances.
(2) The Ombudsman may at any time during or after an investigation consult with
■authority to attempt to settle the complaint, or for any other purpose,
i   (3) Where before the Ombudsman has made his decision respecting a matter|
Big investigated he receives a request for consultation from the authority, he shall|
gsult with the authority.
 RS Chap. 306 Ombudsman 28 Eliz. 2|
Power to obtain information
15. (1) The Ombudsman may receive and obtain information from the person*
and in the manner he considers appropriate, and in his discretion may conduct hearing™
(2) Without restricting subsection (1), but subject to this Act, the OmbudsmaH
(a) at any reasonable time enter, remain on and inspect all of the premiseS
occupied by an authority, converse in private with any person there and
otherwise investigate matters within his jurisdiction;
(b) require a person to furnish information or produce a document or thing in
his possession or control that relates to an investigation at a time and
place he specifies, whether or not that person is a past or present membM
or employee of an authority and whether or not the document or thing^B
in the custody or under the control of an authority;
(c) make copies of information furnished or a document or thing produce™
under this section;
(d) summon  before  him  and  examine  on  oath  any  person  who the
Ombudsman  believes  is  able to  give  information  relevant  to an
investigation, whether or not that person is a complainant or a member M
employee of an authority, and for that purpose may administer an oath;
(e) receive and accept,  on oath or otherwise,  evidence he conside™
appropriate, whether or not it would be admissible in a court.
(3) Where the Ombudsman obtains a document or thing under subsection (2) and
the authority requests its return, the Ombudsman shall within 48 hours after receiving
the request return it to the authority, but he may again require its production in
accordance with this section.
Opportunity to make representations
16. Where it appears to the Ombudsman that there may be sufficient grounds for
making a report or recommendation under this Act that may adversely affect an
authority or person, the Ombudsman shall inform the authority or person of the groundS
and shall give the authority or person the opportunity to make representations, eithtOT
orally or in writing at the discretion of the Ombudsman, before he decides the matter*
Executive Council proceedings
17. Where the Attorney General certifies that the entry on premises, the giviiOT
of information, the answering of a question or the production of a document or thing
(a) interfere with or impede the investigation or detection of an offencS
(b) result in or involve the disclosure of deliberations of the Executi^
Council; or
(c) result in or involve the disclosure of proceedings of the Executive
Council or a committee of it, relating to matters of a secret or
confidential nature and that the disclosure would be contrary or
prejudicial to the public interest,
 )79 Ombudsman RS Chap. 306
| Ombudsman shall not enter the premises and shall not require the information or
|wer to be given or the document or thing to be produced, but shall report the making
[the certificate to the Legislative Assembly not later than in his next annual report.
iplication of other laws respecting disclosure
18. (1) Subject to section 17, a rule of law that authorizes or requires the
thholding of a document or thing, or the refusal to disclose a matter in answer to a
Rtion, on the ground that the production or disclosure would be injurious to the
("pic interest does not apply to production of the document or thing or the disclosure
Khe matter to the Ombudsman.
I (2) Subject to section 17 and to subsection (4), a person who is bound by an
lactment to maintain confidentiality in relation to or not to disclose any matter shall
It be required to supply any information to or answer any question put by the
Inbudsman in relation to that matter, or to produce to the Ombudsman any document
iBiing relating to it, if compliance with that requirement would be in breach of the
■ligation of confidentiality or nondisclosure.
I (3) Subject to section 17 but notwithstanding subsection (2), where a person is
lund to maintain confidentiality in respect of a matter only by virtue of an oath under
\i Public Service Act or a rule of law referred to in subsection (1), he shall disclose the
Ibrmation, answer questions and produce documents or things on the request of the
I (4) Subject to section 17, after receiving a complainant's consent in writing, the
Inbudsman may require a person described in subsection (2) to, and that person shall,
Ipply information, answer any question or produce any document or thing required by
la Ombudsman that relates only to the complainant.
livileged information
I 19. (1) Subject to section 18, a person has the same privileges in relation to
I'ing information, answering questions or producing documents or things to the
Inbudsman as that person would have with respect to a proceeding in a court.
I (2) Except on the trial of a person for perjury or for an offence under this Act,
lidence given by a person in proceedings before the Ombudsman and evidence of the
■istence of the proceedings is inadmissible against that person in a court or in any
Bier proceeding of a judicial nature.
fitness and information expenses
20. (1) A person examined under section 15 (2) (d) is entitled to the same fees,
Svances and expenses as if he were a witness in the Supreme Court.
(2) Where a person incurs expenses in complying with a request of the
hbudsman for production of documents or other information, the Ombudsman may
lis discretion reimburse that person for reasonable expenses incurred that are not
£ered under subsection (1).
here complaint not substantiated
I 21. Where the Ombudsman decides not to investigate or further investigate a
Rplaint, or where at the conclusion of an investigation the Ombudsman decides that
RS Chap. 306 Ombudsman 28 Enzfl
the complaint has not been substantiated, he shall as soon as is reasonable notify in
writing the complainant and the authority of that decision and the reasons for it and maj8
indicate any other recourse that may be available to the complainant.
Procedure after investigation
22. (1) Where, after completing an investigation, the Ombudsman believes that
(a) a decision, recommendation, act or omission that was the subject mattea]
of the investigation was
(i) contrary to law;
(ii) unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory;
(iii) made, done or omitted pursuant to a statutory provision or othaB
rule of law or practice that is unjust, oppressive or improper™
(iv) based in whole or in part on a mistake of law or fact or on
irrelevant grounds or consideration;
(v) related to the application of arbitrary, unreasonable or unfa™
procedures; or
(vi) otherwise wrong;
(b) in doing or omitting an act or in making or acting on a decision or
recommendation, an authority
(i) did so for an improper purpose;
(ii) failed to give adequate and appropriate reasons in relation to tha
nature of the matter; or
(iii) was negligent or acted improperly; or
(c) there was unreasonable delay in dealing with the subject matter of the
the Ombudsman shall report his opinion and the reasons for it to the authority and may
make the recommendation he considers appropriate.
(2) Without restricting subsection (1), the Ombudsman may recommend that
(a) a matter be referred to the appropriate authority for further consideration
(b) an act be remedied;
(c) an omission or delay be rectified;
(d) a decision or recommendation be cancelled or varied;
(e) reasons be given;
(f) a practice, procedure or course of conduct be altered;
(g) an enactment or other rule of law be reconsidered; or
(h) any other steps be taken.
Authority to notify Ombudsman of steps taken
23. (1) Where the Ombudsman makes a recommendation under section 22, he
may request that the authority notify him within a specified time of the steps that have
been or are proposed to be taken to give effect to his recommendation, or if no steps
have been or are proposed to be taken, the reasons for not following the
(2) Where, after considering a response made by an authority under subsectimpj
(1)   the   Ombudsman   believes   it   advisable   to   modify   or  further  modify his
 |979 Ombudsman RS Chap. 306
bcommendation, he shall notify the authority of his recommendation as modified and
may request that the authority notify him of the steps that have been or are proposed to
roe taken to give effect to the modified recommendation, or if no steps have been or are
proposed to be taken, of the reasons for not following the modified recommendation.
Report of Ombudsman where no suitable action taken
24. (1) If within a reasonable time after a request by the Ombudsman has been
made under section 23 no action is taken that the Ombudsman believes adequate or
appropriate, he may, after considering any reasons given by the authority, submit a
report of the matter to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and, after that, may make
Mich report to the Legislative Assembly respecting the matter as he considers
(2) The Ombudsman shall attach to a report under subsection (1) a copy of his
recommendation and any response made to him under section 23, but he shall delete
from his recommendation and from the response any material that would unreasonably
mvade any person's privacy, and may in his discretion delete material revealing the
gentity of a member, officer or employee of an authority.
Complainant to be informed
25. (1) Where the Ombudsman makes a recommendation pursuant to section 22
w 23 and no action that the Ombudsman believes adequate or appropriate is taken
within a reasonable time, he shall inform the complainant of his recommendation and
Bake such additional comments as he considers appropriate.
(2) The Ombudsman shall in every case inform the complainant within a
gasonable time of the result of the investigation.
go hearing as of right
26. Except as provided in this Act, a person is not entitled as of right to a hearing
Sbfore the Ombudsman.
i Ombudsman not subject to review
27. Proceedings of the Ombudsman shall not be challenged, reviewed or called
ijnto question by a court, except on the ground of lack or excess of jurisdiction.
i Proceedings privileged
28. (1) Proceedings do not lie against the Ombudsman or against a person
.ding under the authority of the Ombudsman for anything he may in good faith do,
tport or say in the course of the exercise or purported exercise of his duties under this
(2) For the purposes of any Act or law respecting libel or slander,
(a) anything said, all information supplied and all documents and things
produced  in  the course  of an  inquiry or proceedings before the
RS Chap. 306 Ombudsman 28 Eliz. 2
Ombudsman under this Act are privileged to the same extent as if thel
inquiry or proceedings were proceedings in a court; and
(b) a report made by the Ombudsman and a fair and accurate account of the
report in a newspaper, periodical publication or broadcast is privileged to
the same extent as if the report of the Ombudsman were the order of ai
Delegation of powers
29. (1) The Ombudsman may in writing delegate to any person or class of j
persons any of his powers or duties under this Act, except the power
(a) of delegation under this section;
(b) to make a report under this Act; and
(c) to require a production or disclosure under section 18 (1).
(2) A delegation under this section is revocable at will and does not prevent thel
exercise at any time by the Ombudsman of a power so delegated.
(3) A delegation may be made subject to terms the Ombudsman considers!
(4) Where the Ombudsman by whom a delegation is made ceases to hold office*
the delegation continues in effect so long as the delegate continues in office or until!
revoked by a succeeding Ombudsman.
(5) A person purporting to exercise power of the Ombudsman by virtue of aj
delegation under this section shall, when requested to do so, produce evidence of hisl
authority to exercise the power.
Annual and special reports
30. (1) The Ombudsman shall report annually on the affairs of his office to the
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, who shall cause the report to be laid before tha
Legislative Assembly as soon as possible.
(2) The Ombudsman, where he considers it to be in the public interest or in thel
interest of a person or authority, may make a special report to the Legislative Assembljl
or comment publicly respecting a matter relating generally to the exercise of his dutiesl
under this Act or to a particular case investigated by him.
31. A person commits an offence who,
(a) without lawful justification or excuse, intentionally obstructs, hinders orl
resists the Ombudsman or another person in the exercise of his power ofl
duties under this Act;
(b) without lawful justification or excuse, refuses or intentionally fails toi
comply with a lawful requirement of the Ombudsman or another person!
under this Act;
(c) intentionally makes a false statement to or misleads or attempts to
mislead the Ombudsman or another person in the exercise of his powers J
or duties under this Act; or
(d) violates an oath taken under this Act.
 1979 Ombudsman RS Chap. 306
Other remedies
32. The provisions of this Act are in addition to the provisions of any other
enactment or rule of law under which
(a) a remedy or right of appeal or objection is provided; or
(b) a procedure is provided for inquiry into or investigation of a matter,
and nothing in this Act limits or affects that remedy, right of appeal or objection or
33. (1) The Legislative Assembly may on its own initiative or on the
recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council make rules for the guidance of
the Ombudsman in the exercise of his powers and performance of his duties.
(2) Subject to this Act and any rules made under subsection (1), the Ombudsman
may determine his procedure and the procedure for the members of his staff in the
exercise of the powers conferred and the performance of his duties imposed by this Act.
Additions to Schedule
34. The Lieutenant Governor in Council may by order add authorities to the
35.  Sections 3 to 11 of the Schedule come into force on proclamation.
1. Ministries of the Province.
2. A person, corporation, commission, board, bureau or authority who is or the majority of the
members of which are, or the majority of the members of the board of management or board of directors of
which are,
(a) appointed by an Act, minister, the Lieutenant Governor in Council;
(b) in the discharge of their duties, public officers or servants of the Province; or
(c) responsible to the Province.
[3. A corporation the ownership of which or a majority of the shares of which is vested in the
4. Municipalities.
5. Regional districts.
6. The Islands Trust established under the Islands Trust Act.
I. Public schools, colleges and boards of school trustees as defined in the School Act and college
councils established under that Act.
8. Universities and the universities council as defined in the University Act.
9. Corporations as defined in the College and Institute Act.
10. Hospitals and boards of management of hospitals as defined in the Hospital Act.
II. Governing bodies of professional and occupational associations that are established or continued
gy an Act.)
1977-58-Sch: [bracketed sections 3 to II to be proclaimed].
 RS Chap. 306
28 Eliz. 2
Printer for British Columbia
Victoria. 1979


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items