Tens of thousands of pounds of disgusting and dangerous sewage gets pumped into the basements of homeowners in Ottawa, not just once or twice, but three or four times – in what the City claims is a “hundred year occurrence.” The top public servant in Ottawa claims the sewers are working just fine, the way they were designed.

There’s the transit fiasco, and City Council is powerless to enforce any semblance of making people responsible for their outrageous mistakes.

We have a culture of incompetence in Ottawa and it is hurting us all. The latest is today’s H1N1 flu shot fiasco. Doctor Isra Levy shouldn’t be blamed. In fact he may want to escape before he catches the viral fecklessness that permeates City of Ottawa management.

Flu shots aren’t anything new. Last year a nurse in our officer tower had us fill out a form while waiting in line, checked what she needed to check, and administered the vaccine. She could have easily handled 20 to 30 patients per hour.

But apparently that’s far too efficient for the City, where the process involves arriving, taking a number, waiting for it to be called, proceeding through a “registration” process, and then waiting in yet another area for the actual injection.

On Monday we arrived at an Ottawa clinic at 4:30pm and received number 497.  They were almost at 300 and quoted a two-hour wait time.  Not the one hour wait @ottawahealth had tweeted, but understandable.  About 6:10pm staff quietly announced that “the computers were down” and that they wouldn’t be able to “register” anyone “for ten or fifteen minutes”.

I peered into the “registration” room and saw five staff members sitting quietly behind their laptops. It was strangely tranquil despite the obvious stupidity of not promptly switching to a manual backup system like any competent organization. 

At 7pm, after waiting two and a half-hours — and well before the clinic was due to close at 8:30 —  my 4-year-old and I were sent home. No registration. No flu shot. “We’ll try to fast track you tomorrow,’” the nurse said politely.

Any company that dared to treat customers this way would be out of business.  Fixing the process and having staff stay until every person in line was served would have been the right thing to do. But in the City of Ottawa, public service has very little to do with serving the public, and City management will no doubt be crowing about the success and how many people were there.

The City had months to plan. If our health department is totally overwhelmed by 500 citizens arriving at a large community center for a city-organized flu vaccination clinic, what confidence can we have that they are capable of any meaningful assistance in a real emergency?

2 Responses to Ottawa: It’s all about the lack of competence

  1. kingthorin
    Oct 27, 2009

    Well when the Province has to order the City to do something that seems to me like it should ring some alarm bells for City staff and anyone in the Prov/Fed Gov’t that has oversight of such operations.


  2. Eric Jacksch
    Oct 27, 2009

    A few people have asked, so just to be clear, there are many dedicated and talented employees at the City of Ottawa. It’s top City management that should be seeking other opportunities.

Leave a Reply