Union sees need to enhance online resources with added walk-in service
The recent announcement by the B.C. government of improved staffing and service levels at the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is a welcome improvement and a good first step, but should not completely replace walk-in services, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union said today.
The B.C. government reported that at least 25 new staff were hired and additional online resources were put in place – resulting in wait times for urgent applications being processed 47 per cent faster, applications requesting money were processed 44 per cent faster, and wait times to speak to an information officer is down 84 percent since additional funding was approved in September 2017.
"We are heartened to see that wait times for service at the RTB have improved with the addition of new staff and online resources," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The addition of a compliance and enforcement director, along with new information services and dispute resolution staff is a welcome and needed improvement to the agency."
"We're also happy to see that the online portal is operating more quickly and providing a streamlined process for applicants. But we must also point out that resources need to be expanded for walk-in services at local RTB branches, for people with limited access and knowledge to navigate the web portal."
Currently, the Burnaby Residential Tenancy Branch location is the only office in the province where people can walk-in to obtain service. Elderly residents and people with limited understanding of computer and internet services currently have few options to file applications under the Residential Tenancy Act.
The BCGEU has been actively involved in our Affordable BC campaign, which includes:
- A successful petition to stop unaffordable rent increases, with almost 5,500 signatures;
- A municipal plan for affordable housing prior to the 2018 municipal elections;
- A comprehensive submission to the BC government's Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, which included our proposal for affordable housing, as part of the government's annual budget consultation process.