Ombudsman begins taking complaints about school boards September 1
August 31, 2015
31 August, 2015
Beginning tomorrow, September 1, the Ontario Ombudsman is officially able to take complaints about the province’s 82 school boards. The historic new expansion of the Ombudsman’s mandate was granted with the passage of Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014.
TORONTO (August 31, 2015) – Beginning tomorrow, September 1, the Ontario Ombudsman is officially able to take complaints about the province’s 82 school boards. The historic new expansion of the Ombudsman’s mandate was granted with the passage of Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014.
The new law, passed in December 2014 with staggered dates for implementation, extends Ombudsman scrutiny to the broader public sector for the first time in the office’s 40-year history. It will also enable the Ombudsman to take complaints about municipalities and universities as of January 1, 2016.
“Our staff have done their homework and will be standing by to hear complaints about school boards first thing tomorrow,” said Ontario Ombudsman André Marin. “Even though school doesn’t start for another week, many people have told us they have been waiting for this day, and we’ll be ready for them.”
The need for independent oversight of school boards was identified by the first Ombudsman, Arthur Maloney, in the 1970s, said Mr. Marin, whose office has had to turn away more than 1,200 complaints about school boards in the past 10 years alone.
“Tomorrow, Ontario takes a great step forward in opening the broader public sector to the same level of scrutiny as the rest of the provincial government, as other provinces have already done,” he said.
Anyone with an unresolved concern about a school board – including parents and family members, school board staff and trustees, teachers or special interest groups – can contact the Ombudsman by using the online complaint form at www.ombudsman.on.ca, Complaints can also be filed by phone (1-800-263-1830), or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). However, Mr. Marin stressed that the Ombudsman is an office of last resort, and that issues should be resolved locally wherever possible. School boards should reinforce their own complaint and accountability mechanisms, he added.
The Ombudsman is an independent office of the Ontario legislature that resolves and investigates individual and systemic issues relating to the administration of provincial government services and school boards. It oversees more than 500 provincial government ministries, agencies, boards, commissions, tribunals and corporations, and handled 23,153 complaints in 2014-2015. Although the Ombudsman’s recommendations are not binding, almost all have been accepted by government over the past decade, resulting in major systemic reforms to everything from newborn screening to lottery security to monitoring of unlicensed daycares.
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