Telus Outsourced B.C. Vaccine Call Centres to Debt Collection Agency, Says Report

Upon looking into Telus’ handling of its government contract for establishing and operating call centres in British Columbia for the booking of COVID-19 vaccine appointments, PressProgress procured emails and employment documents proving Telus farmed its duties out to CBV Collections, a debt collection agency out of Burnaby.

Telus botched last month’s rollout of B.C.’s vaccine appointment program spectacularly, with understaffed call centres and technical difficulties aplenty. Despite its display of incompetency, the B.C. government opted to stay on with Telus.

Telus then subcontracted the call centre operations to CBV Collections, who didn’t do a much better job. Two individuals who were hired by CBV collections to staff its vaccine call centres told tales of dire facilities and poor training processes.

“It’s such a mess. I don’t even know how this is allowed. It’s so disorganized”, said one of the former workers. “The whole thing is just kind of a mess”.

The former employee told PressProgress that they were hired on a $19 per hour, six-month contract to take vaccine appointments over the phone in the Fraser Health region, and that the hiring and employee on-boarding process was further outsourced to a recruitment agency called Aerotek.

The former employee in question said that CBV Collections was disorganized and clearly out of its depth, as they were locked out of the agency’s offices when they went to pick up equipment and were never given any phone numbers to reach the call centre’s supervisors in case of issues.

When they were let inside, they had a conversation with their supervisor that involved apologies from both sides and ended amicably, but after the next day of paid, eight-hour training, they were informed by Aerotek that their contract had been terminated due to the exchange they had with their supervisor.

“I would see in the chats people were saying like oh the system has been down for an hour, I can’t do anything”, the ex-employee said. Technical difficulties were abundant, but proper support and training for new employees who had little to no experience in public health were not.

CBV President Bob Richards refused to confirm whether the agency was involved in the messy launch of Telus’ vaccine appointment program in B.C. “I honestly can’t comment on that”, he said.

Richards did confirm that CBV Collections had been in talks with Telus about subcontracting call centre operations for vaccine bookings, and that FrontLine Group, described as a “division” of CBV Collections and ran out of the same building in Burnaby, is involved in the program.

A Telus spokesperson told PressProgress, the company is relying on “the support of all of our team members, both unionized and non-unionized, vendors, and other stakeholders to ensure British Columbians can get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The company added subcontractors were used due to “the temporary, intense spike in demand to meet our commitment to British Columbians for the vaccine program while also maintaining service levels for Telus customers.”

Telus said they are now one week ahead of schedule for vaccine bookings, despite the initial hiccup of the call centre’s launch in B.C.

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