Ontario Ombudsman to investigate Niagara region CAO hiring and related issues

Ontario Ombudsman to investigate Niagara region CAO hiring and related issues

August 30, 2018

30 August, 2018

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced he will conduct a formal investigation into matters related to the hiring of the Regional Municipality of Niagara’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

(TORONTO – August 30, 2018) Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced he will conduct a formal investigation into matters related to the hiring of the Regional Municipality of Niagara’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

Mr. Dubé informed the regional municipality (the region) in writing today that he will investigate:

  • The process followed by the region in the hiring of its CAO;

  • The region’s response to concerns about the CAO’s hiring, including the recent investigation by a municipal ombudsman and review by an external governance auditor; and

  • The administration of the CAO’s contract, including any extension and amendment.


One week ago, regional council passed a motion to ask the Ombudsman to investigate all matters associated with the hiring of the CAO – and a letter to this effect was delivered to Mr. Dubé yesterday. The Ombudsman’s office has also received 113 complaints in recent months about the CAO’s hiring and the region’s response to the concerns raised.

“Given the high volume of public complaints, the request from regional council, the concerns raised publicly by two local MPPs and others, the evident seriousness of the issue and the fact that local efforts to resolve the matter have been exhausted, I have determined that a formal investigation by my office is in the public interest,” Mr. Dubé said.

However, he stressed that the investigation will take time, and he will not release his findings on this or any other municipal investigations before the October 22 municipal election. “As an impartial, independent office of the legislature, we take care to remain outside of the political fray. Consistent with our practice with regard to Ontario government bodies during the recent provincial election campaign, we will not release any reports related to municipalities during this period,” he said.

“Our focus, as always, will be on conducting a thorough, evidence-based investigation, and making constructive, feasible recommendations.”

Anyone who has information relevant to the investigation can contact the Ombudsman’s office through the online complaint form, by phone (1-800-263-1830), or email info@ombudsman.on.ca.

The Ombudsman resolves and investigates public complaints about the administration of provincial government organizations and municipalities, universities and school boards, as well as complaints about closed municipal meetings. Since his office’s mandate was extended to include municipalities in 2016, it has received more than 8,000 complaints about them, almost all of which have been resolved without need for formal investigation. This will be the Ombudsman’s sixth investigation of a municipality.

Mr. Dubé’s most recent municipal investigation report, Press Pause, released in June, also involved the Regional Municipality of Niagara, which he found unfairly seized the property of a journalist and a citizen blogger during a council meeting in December 2017.


For further information, please contact:
Linda Williamson, Director of Communications
lwilliamson@ombudsman.on.ca – 416-586-3426