Q: Where can I get Service Canada help here on the Coast?
A: When COVID hit, the Service Canada outreach worker visits to Sechelt shut down and moved to phone-only access through a Service Canada outreach number. As you are may be aware, this meant Sunshine Coast residents needing any kind of in-person Service Canada support have needed to go into Sinclair Centre in downtown Vancouver since then. Here at the Resource Centre, we have been able to help many people with Service Canada forms and MyServiceCanada online account-related questions. When we don’t know the answer, we often sit with clients and call the outreach phone number to clarify issues where necessary.
Fortunately, beginning this month, Service Canada’s Sunshine Coast scheduled outreach in Sechelt is back up and running. Outreach representatives are available the first and third Thursday of each month for the foreseeable future. Upcoming summer dates are: July 21, Aug. 4 and Aug. 18. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed for lunch between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and appointments are in-person on a first come first served basis. The location is 5498 Wharf Avenue in Sechelt in the Service BC Office, just next to the ambulance station.
There is free parking at this location, and it is said to be wheelchair accessible. The website says that cheques are the only type of payment accepted at this time. (Cash, debit cards, credit cards are not accepted at this office).
At outreach appointments you can:
Ask questions about and drop-off Employment Insurance (EI) forms and documents;
Ask questions about and drop off completed Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) applications and documents;
Get certified copies done for documents required by Service Canada (ie. When asked for a certified copy of your marriage certificate when applying for CPP, outreach agents can do this on the spot);
Get help with technical issues that arise when trying to access your online MyServiceCanada account;
Get help around death benefits-related issues;
Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN).
There may be more they can help with but I am not aware of these services at this time.
Things I’m told they cannot help you with at the outreach site include passport, immigration and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) questions. For these, you must still contact the specific government department pertaining to these issues. We can help you figure out how to best connect with these departments, either online, by phone or in-person.
The official webpage with more information about the scheduled Sunshine Coast outreach site, including the full list of dates from now until March 2023, can be found by navigating to the following website, and using the “search by location” field: servicecanada.gc.ca/tbsc-fsco
Due to the limited number of days the outreach site is open, I encourage any of you with immediate Service Canada-related issues to continue calling the outreach call centre at 1-877-631-2657 as a place to start. The call centre representatives may able to help you resolve things. In my experience, the wait times on that outreach phone line have been short or non-existent.
And for any of you needing help applying for things like CPP / OAS online, or for help navigating government issues in general, the Resource Centre continues to be here to help you navigate services and forms. Make an appointment, and we will see how we can help!
Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub. The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Contact us: email@example.com or 604-885-4088.