B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix takes questions in the legislature by video link from his office, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix takes questions in the legislature by video link from his office, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)

B.C. minister blasts Telus performance on 90-plus vaccine appointments

Telus CEO says hundreds more call centre agents are being added

B.C. health authorities are assigning additional staff to respond to pressure of thousands of callers seeking COVID-19 vaccine appointments, and expects Telus to live up to its contract to get the job done, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.

Dix told the B.C. legislature Monday that there was a particular failure to keep up with demand in the Vancouver Coastal Health region on the first day of booking for community residents aged 90 and up and Indigenous people aged 65 and up. He singled out Telus, which had no backup call centre service from Vancouver Coastal as the other four health regions have, and promised to “hold them accountable” for their performance.

“That contractor, Telus, failed us yesterday,” Dix said March 9, adding that the government’s main phone contractor has given assurances it will meet its obligations.

Telus CEO Darren Entwistle issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for the first-day performance, adding that by Tuesday afternoon it will have 250 agents taking calls, with hundreds more to come as the vaccine program ramps up.

“We know how crucial the vaccine rollout is for British Columbia, and we are incredibly sorry for the frustrations that British Columbians have experienced trying to connect to the call centres,” Entwistle said. “We can and will do better, and we are working diligently to make this right.”

The opening of phone appointments for all five regions Monday morning saw a huge rush of calls, with 1.7 million separate calls recorded in three hours. There are about 50,000 of the most elderly people eligible to make appointments this week, with vaccine clinics to begin next week and a larger group aged 85 and up invited to begin calling starting Monday, March 15. Details of the age-based system and phone numbers for each authority are available here.

Dix noted that 15,000 of the 50,000 eligible people did book appointments Monday, and response in Fraser Health, Interior Health, Island Health and Northern Health was “OK but not great” the first day. More than half of those successful bookings were in Fraser Health, the only region that was able to have an online booking system in place.

Story continues below

Dix said all five health authorities expect to have online booking in place by April, when the larger groups in the lower age groups become eligible. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the online system is an urgent priority.

“I think we need to be aware that there is quite a large project in terms of developing a seamless online and phone system for April,” Henry said Monday. “Obviously we wanted it to be ready for weeks ago, but it does take time to get those things together. Fraser Health is the only health authority that had that type of an online booking system that was robust enough at this point.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke plans to begin construction of the $4.9-million Church Road corridor project this summer. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke hopes to start Church Road Corridor project this summer

Road upgrade includes a roundabout, sidewalks, bike lanes and boulevards

The site of the proposed rental housing development at 2197 Otter Point Rd. (District of Sooke)
District of Sooke approves development with 77 rental units

New parking lot for John Phillips Memorial Park included in project

Traffic is backed up due to a crash on Highway 1. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)
Traffic backs up on Highway 1 westbound in View Royal after crash

First responders are reportedly on the scene in View Royal

Police are looking for the driver of this truck after it nearly hit a group of kids in Esquimalt on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Police)
Victoria police looking for driver of truck that nearly missed kids before crashing in Esquimalt

The truck’s driver, a man, fled the scene after the truck crashed into a house’s fence

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Driver stopped on Pat Bay Highway after road rage reports fails breathalyzer test: police

Several witnesses reported driver to Saanich police, school officer intercepted

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

The District of Sooke will continue to flower with Communities in Bloom. (Pixabay)
Sooke will bud but not bloom in provincial competition

Council scales back participation in Communities in Bloom

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Most Read