This is a time of significant growth and impact for the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman. Our mandate, expanded last year, now includes not just provincial government bodies, but municipalities, universities and school boards — meaning we can now help more Ontarians with a wider range of problems than ever before.
Recently, it took just four minutes for David Orazietti, Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, to announce changes that will fundamentally affect law and order across the province.
Some 40 years after the first Ontario Ombudsman called for it – and 13 months after it was formally passed into law – municipalities in this province now come under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman’s office. For the first time, Ontarians who have complaints related to municipal government have the same recourse to the independent, impartial services of their Ombudsman as they do when they have complaints about provincial government bodies.
On January 1, 2016, citizens of Ontario will finally be able to bring their municipal complaints to their provincial Ombudsman. For readers in B.C., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon, this won’t seem like news – their ombudsmen have long had jurisdiction over municipalities, dealing with complaints about everything from misuse of public funds to bylaw changes.
Forgive me for saying this on the first day of summer, but some of us are already getting ready for back-to-school season.
The mood was festive at Queen’s Park when Bill 8, the MPP and Public Sector Accountability and Transparency Act was passed Dec. 9.
Prof. Erika Simpson, in the Dec. 20 Forum Public pay, public scrutiny, raises some serious issues in writing about her Western University colleague Andrew Sancton, who was aggrieved when I temporarily blocked him on Twitter.
The Toronto Police Services Board has decided not to renew Chief Bill Blair’s contract when it expires in April 2015, stating a desire for leadership renewal. In taking such action, the board has also created a unique and long overdue opportunity to assert its civilian authority over the police.
A bit of history was made this week as the Ontario government inched toward greater accountability in the broader public sector. For some municipalities, however, according to the Star’s Richard Brennan, it was the start of a “political maelstrom” that is punishment “for Toronto’s sins.”
Six years ago, the city of London found itself under the microscope of the Supreme Court of Canada. Speaking for the court, Madam Justice Louise Charron had some harsh words for the city, in finding that council had met secretly and illegally, contrary to Ontario's Municipal Act.
Whoever called this time of year the "dog days” clearly wasn’t a watchdog. Summer is when my office is at its busiest, because it’s when we issue our report card on the provincial government — our annual report.
In my work as Ontario’s ombudsman, I hear from thousands of vulnerable people when their public institutions fail them. Going by the nearly 20,000 complaints I received this past year, the news is not encouraging.
Fine municipal councillors who conduct public business in private — hit ’em in the pocketbook (Toronto Sun column by André Marin, March 16, 2013)
“The Ontario Special Investigations Unit: Securing Independence and Impartiality,” Police-Involved Deaths: The Need for Reform, B.C. Civil Liberties Association, 2012.
(Toronto Star op-ed, April 8, 2012)
Setting limits on legal counsel in SIU investigations (Article, The Digest - The CBA Public Sector Lawyers Forum Newsletter, March 2012)
Will Hamilton’s top police officer endorse giving the Special Investigations Unit real teeth? (Hamilton Spectator, op-ed, March 23, 2012)
Give me power to help; Only in Ontario do citizens not have the option of complaining to their ombudsman about problems they encounter with their hospitals, writes André Marin (Ottawa Citizen, op-ed, June 21, 2011)
Who oversees children's aid societies?; Ontario's ombudsman is seeking authority to investigate complaints (Toronto Star, op-ed, June 21, 2011)
In 1979, former Ontario Ombudsman Arthur Maloney published his 600-page 'Blueprint for the Office of the Ombudsman'.
National Post, op-ed, October 8, 2009
Optimum: The Journal of Public Sector Management, The Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa, October 2009
Toronto Star, op-ed, September 23, 2009
Toronto Sun (and 24 other Sun Media newspapers) op-ed, June 23, 2009
Winnipeg Free Press, op-ed, April 22, 2009
Globe and Mail, op-ed, December 22, 2008
Winnipeg Free Press, op-ed, November 25, 2008
Honouring the Past, Shaping the Future: Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, 25th Anniversary Report, May 2008
The Advocates’ Society Journal, Summer 2007
Canadian Journal of Administrative Law & Practice (2007), 20 CASLP 101
Toronto Star, op-ed, April 7, 2006