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

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Through their Simple Generosity campaign, Valley First has pledged to donate $1 million of community support to British Columbia communities in 2021. (Contributed)
Valley First rewarding Penticton families with innovative way to thrive together

Participants with ‘inspiring ideas’ will receive a surprise for their family, valued at up to $2,500

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Ryan Upson’s first BCHL hat-trick propelled the Vees to a 7-1 stomping of the Cranbrook Bucks Thursday April 16) night to improve their record to 7-1-0-0 in this abbreviated pod season. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Pentiton Vees bounce back with big win over Bucks

Vees score five in under five minutes, win 7-1 over Cranbrook

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Ford F-350s have been targeted in the North Okanagan by auto thieves since February 2021, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP data shows. (Gene J. Puskar - The Canadian Press/AP file)
Auto thieves target older Ford F-350s in Vernon: RCMP

Vernon Mounties remind all motorists no vehicle is immune to auto crime

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP were present at the McDonalds in Armstrong Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Tomer Joury - Facebook)
Police handle ‘high-risk’ situation at Armstrong residence

A woman was apprehended and taken to hospital under the Mental Health Act; no charges laid

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

Most Read