Ministry makes changes to delivery of services

Summerland intake calls now handled from Penticton

Representatives with the Ministry of Children and Family Development say the changes to service in the South Okanagan were made in order to improve service in the area.

In December, the ministry announced changes for the region which affect the Summerland office.

“All ministry intake calls for Penticton and Summerland will be handled through the Penticton office, using a single contact number,” a statement from the ministry said.

“These changes are being made to provide more streamlined service delivery for the ministry and will have no impact on staffing levels or the services provided to the area.”

The changes took effect on Jan. 2.

At the Jan. 14 municipal council meeting, Debra Hardman, community services manager in the South Okanagan for the ministry, said the changes were first discussed in 2010, when the ministry started examining changes to the way it delivered services in the region.

Earlier, Summerland cases were handled through the ministry’s Summerland office.

Hardman said handling calls from one office will eliminate redundancies which had occurred with multiple offices all handling intake work.

But members of municipal council had questions about how the changes will affect service in Summerland.

Council members were also concerned about the potential loss of the ministry’s Summerland office.

“We are in a downward trend to eliminating the ministry in Summerland,” Coun. Orv Robson said.

“I just don’t want to see that prevalent in this situation.”

Mayor Janice Perrino also asked why the service could not be delivered from Summerland.

“With over 11,000 people here, I don’t know why we can’t do this out of our own office,” Perrino said.

Hardman said the changes will be put in place for six months and then evaluated.

“Changes like this are difficult,” she said.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the meeting was disappointing, since the ministry will wait six months to review the changes.

“I feel six months is too long,” she said. She had asked for a review of the changes after three months. Perrino said the changes may make economic sense, but the delivery of services in the area will be affected.

“We’re adding more pressure and more stress to our families,” she said.