Ombudsman to investigate closed meetings free of charge
October 22, 2007
22 October, 2007
Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today welcomed new provisions of the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006 that will allow people to complain to his office about closed municipal meetings if their municipality has not appointed its own investigator.
TORONTO (October 22, 2007) – Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today welcomed new provisions of the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006 that will allow people to complain to his office about closed municipal meetings if their municipality has not appointed its own investigator.
The new legal provisions – effective Jan. 1, 2008 – subject any municipal council, board or other decision-making body to an investigation if its members meet behind closed doors (with some exceptions). Where a municipality has not appointed its own investigator, complaints about closed meetings will be handled by the Ombudsman’s office. In keeping with the tradition of ombudsmen around the world, Mr. Marin’s office will not charge fees to complainants or municipalities, to ensure his services are accessible to all.
“The purpose of the legislation is to foster an environment of openness and transparency,” said Mr. Marin. “If municipal politicians try to make decisions in secret, the public can now hold them to account. If their municipality hasn’t appointed its own investigator, people can turn to the Ombudsman of Ontario to investigate their complaint.”
Information about the new legislation and the complaints process is now available at the Ombudsman’s website, www.ombudsman.on.ca. The Ombudsman’s Office will also maintain information on which of Ontario’s 445 municipalities have appointed investigators.
The Ombudsman is an independent officer of the Ontario legislature, funded by the province. His office handles some 20,000 individual complaints a year in addition to conducting frequent systemic investigations into issues of maladministration in provincial government ministries, agencies, boards and commissions. Mr. Marin’s recent investigations have prompted the province to improve newborn screening, compensation of crime victims and the lottery system.