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B.C.’s Ombudsperson wants to hear from people impacted by 2021 floods, wildfires

Office is investigating whether provincial support programs were administered fairly
Rising flood waters are seen surrounding barns in Abbotsford, B.C., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. B.C.’s Ombudsperson is hoping to speak with people who were impacted by 2021 floods and wildfires to determine how well the government responded. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

B.C.’s Ombudsperson is asking for public input on how well the government supported them through the 2021 wildfires and floods.

The office, which is responsible for investigating complaints and reports of serious wrongdoing within the public sector, is currently looking into the province’s response to last year’s extreme weather events. Between the summer’s wildfires and November’s floods, tens of thousands of British Columbians were displaced from their homes throughout the year.

“The impacts of these extreme weather events to both individual well-being and community cohesion were profound. Our investigation will seek to determine how the two government programs addressed any disproportionate impacts experienced by particular communities, including Indigenous communities,” Ombudsperson Jay Chalke said in a statement.

The two programs in question are the Emergency Support Services and Disaster Financial Assistance. The former offers provincially trained volunteers to communities in need to aid with things like food, clothing, lodging, emotional care and transportation, while the latter offers compensation for sudden, unexpected and uninsurable losses. The second program must be applied for.

The Ombudsperson aims to determine if the programs were administered fairly to everyone and whether there were any needs they failed to address.

Anyone who was impacted by 2021’s weather events and who is open to sharing their experience is asked to fill out an online questionnaire. Data collected from it will be anonymized, although respondents will have the option of providing their name and contact information if they wish to speaker with an investigator directly.

It will be available until Dec. 31, 2022.

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Black Press Media Staff

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