This ‘buds for you

Cameron Orr's weekly column.

Call me weird or strange but one of the great things I get to read every year is the Ombudsperson Annual Report, a reasonably easy to read and navigate document which outlines just exactly what this office has been doing with itself over the year.

The best part of the whole thing is reading their case summaries, a few paragraphs on a select few cases that the office has dealt with.

There are certain ways to read these, and I admit that at first glance I take the cynical look at it.

The office looked into countless complaints where regular people like you and me seemed to come against a wall in dealing with policy, procedure, and bureaucracy in general. People, with nowhere else to turn, needed help dealing with the government and its services.

My cynical take is reading it as citizens losing a fight against an emotionless machine that maybe don’t want much to do with them. The Ombudsperson office comes rolling in to strike the hammer and get things working again.

But that’s not it at all.

The trouble is that government services and administration are large machines with particular procedures that can be hard to follow for anyone. I don’t believe there are any people working in government or the health authorities or anywhere else that are not out to help people. A system, however, can always be improved. The ombudsperson is the quality assurance department that makes sure you get better service each time you need it.

One of the most interesting stories from the report is the youth from the Lower Mainland who complained that a police cruiser he had been transported in was very unclean. Long story short, new policies were put in place to make sure cleanliness was a higher priority.

It’s a service that’s open to everyone — the Skeena-Bulkley Valley electoral district had 38 files opened over 2009 and 2010 — so it’s worth a try if you feel you have no where else to turn.

Meanwhile, if you get a chance to lounge in front of the fireplace one evening, give their annual report a read. It’s fun.