If you believe you were not treated fairly by an administrative tribunal, you may file a formal complaint. Where the Ombudsman finds that an individual was not treated fairly, he may make recommendations to the tribunal to address the problem. The Ombudsman may also make recommendations to address any underlying problems related to Ontario government legislation, policies or programs applicable to the tribunal.
The Ombudsman is not an appeal body. He does not have the power to overturn decisions of tribunals and does not substitute his opinion for that of the tribunal members.
Ombudsman's Authority to Review Administrative Tribunals and Their Decisions
The courts have confirmed that the Ombudsman has the authority to investigate Ontario’s administrative tribunals. The Ombudsman may review the processes of administrative tribunals, as well as their decisions.
The Ombudsman is not an appeal body and cannot substitute her/his opinion for that of the tribunal members. She/he does not have the power to overturn decisions of tribunals or to order tribunals to do anything.
When the Ombudsman identifies problems with a particular process or decision, the Ombudsman may make recommendations to the tribunal to address the issue. The Ombudsman may also make recommendations addressing systemic issues related to legislation, policies or programs.
There are over 500 provincial boards, agencies and commissions in Ontario. Many of these are administrative tribunals, which have been granted the authority to make decisions under a statute or regulation. Tribunals are independent agencies responsible for making decisions and sometimes recommendations. There is a broad range of administrative tribunals dealing with a variety of subjects; for instance, some deal with regulatory and licensing issues, others with entitlement to compensation or benefits. Some tribunals are large organizations with many members, such as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal; others are smaller, such as the Ontario Highway Transport Board.
Some tribunals determine their own processes, and have created their own rules of procedure. Their members are also subject to codes of conduct. These documents are generally available to the public.
Administrative tribunals are required to consider the evidence before them. They can make findings of credibility and accept the evidence of one witness over another.
Some administrative tribunals have the express right to reconsider their decisions. Where an individual is dissatisfied with the tribunal's decision, they may have a right to apply to have it reconsidered.
How the Ombudsman Reviews a Tribunal Complaint
When reviewing decisions of administrative tribunals, Ombudsman staff look to see if:
- the decision of the tribunal is authorized by the legislation
- the decision is based on the evidence that was before the tribunal
- the process the tribunal followed was fair, relevant and material issues have been addressed
- adequate reasons have been provided for the decision
- whether there are any underlying systemic issues related to the decision which the Ombudsman may look at. Ombudsman staff will try to work with administrative tribunals to resolve complaints when possible and appropriate.
The Ombudsman may decide not to investigate a complaint about a tribunal for a number of reasons; for example, if upon an initial review of the tribunal’s decision there does not appear to be a problem.
The Ombudsman may also decide not to investigate for other reasons, including that there is another remedy available, there is a need to ensure a judicious use of resources or there has been a significant passage of time since the decision was rendered.
Make a complaint
These may be completed online, mailed, or brought to our office at:
483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower
Please note that you will need to make an appointment to make a complaint in person. To do so, or if you have any questions, please call the office at 1-800-263-1830, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.