The PUSH for MUSH
Efforts to bring ombudsman oversight to MUSH date back to the first Ontario Ombudsman, Arthur Maloney, who began arguing for the Office’s mandate to be extended in 1975. After he left office, he issued an extensive “Blueprint” report documenting his arguments on March 29, 1979
Extend jurisdiction of ombudsman, Maloney urges (Toronto Star, 1979)
When Bill 8 passed in December 2014, the Ombudsman gained oversight of Municipalities, Universities (effective January 1, 2016), and School Boards (effective September 1, 2015).
Since 2005, Ombudsman André Marin has reported on MUSH sector complaints in his Annual Report under the heading “Beyond Scrutiny.” Here are direct links to the most recent summaries:
Public demand for change intensified over the past decade. Since 2005 alone, there have been 16 private member’s bills to give the Ombudsman oversight of all or part of the MUSH sector (including two this year), and 142 petitions tabled in the legislature with the same goal, including 11 this year.
The Ombudsman reported in his 2013-2014 Annual Report that then-premier Dalton McGuinty met with him in June 2012 to discuss extending his mandate to hospitals, long-term care and children’s aid societies. However, the first official government move to amend the Ombudsman Act came in March 2014 under Premier Kathleen Wynne, exactly 35 years after Arthur Maloney’s “Blueprint.” First introduced as Bill 179, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 died on the order paper due to the June 2014 election, but was reintroduced as Bill 8 – and passed on December 9, 2014.
Among many other broad accountability measures, the legislation gives the Ombudsman oversight of the “M,” “U” and “S” of the sector – municipalities and universities as of January 1, 2016; school boards as of September 1, 2015. It does not extend Ombudsman authority to hospitals, long-term care or child protection. Instead, it will create a separate Patient Ombudsman for complaints about hospitals and long-term care, reporting to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care through Health Quality Ontario, which the Ombudsman does oversee. The powers of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth will be expanded to include investigations of children’s aid societies. Oversight of police does not change under Bill 8. More here