Missed Call, Missed Opportunity
While reviewing a complaint involving Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA), this Office was advised by a caseworker that they may make one attempt to contact a new applicant to follow-up on any outstanding information in their application, regardless whether the caseworker is able to leave a message. While the initial complaint was addressed through the administrative review process and the file closed, this Office continued to have concerns regarding this communication practice.
The Ombudsman Representative followed-up with the Regional Manager, who confirmed that the number of attempts to contact an applicant is not outlined in policy and while some caseworkers may leave one message, others may make additional attempts at contacting applicants. Concerns with this practice and the reported inconsistencies between caseworkers in communication with applicants were forwarded to the Executive Director of ESIA. A meeting was held between ESIA and this Office. During the meeting the ESIA Specialist suggested discussing this issue at an upcoming meeting with ESIA Supervisors. The Specialist confirmed they discussed the issue, including expectations that caseworkers who are unable to leave a message when they attempt contact with an applicant, are to make a second call. If still unable to reach or leave a message for the applicant, a letter is to be sent to the applicant requesting they contact the caseworker to proceed with the application.
Based on the actions taken by ESIA to address the concerns, the file was closed. However, this Office will continue to monitor any trends in the complaints involving ESIA, including those that involve communication practices.