Ombudsman's office to increase oversight of province's city councils

TORONTO -- Ontarians with complaints about services within their municipalities will soon have recourse to the province's chief watchdog.

Acting Ombudsman Barbara Finlay says her office will have new powers to investigate complaints against municipal councils effective January 1.

See Full Article

The expected mandate comes through the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, which also gives the Ombudsman's office the authority to examine complaints related to public schoolboards and universities.

The change comes after a particularly active period for city council meetings that were closed to the public between Sept. 1, 2014 and Aug. 31 of this year.

Finlay released a report saying her office received 195 complaints about closed council meetings, reviewed 85 of them and found 16 to be illegal. The number of complaints jumped 73 per cent from fiscal 2014.

Finlay says most breaches come about through ignorance of the rules, but cautions councillors not to rely too heavily on email or informal meetings to keep city business out of public view.

"After January 1, we will finally be able to help the public with their concerns about any aspect of municipal government," she said at a press conference. "From garbage and snow removal to social programs to the conduct of councillors."

The new mandate expands on duties the office has assumed since 2008 when it began scrutinizing complaints about city council meetings that were closed to the public.

Not all of Ontario's 444 municipalities would use the Ombudsman to field such complaints, however, as councils also had the option to hire investigators through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Finlay's latest report offered statistics from the 206 municipalities that opted to use her services.

The City of Clarence Rockland was the source for 20 complaints, the most of any municipality this fiscal year.

Finlay said her office's expanded mandate is meant to enhance rather than replace local systems to promote transparency, adding the Ombudsman is to remain a last resort option for complaints that aren't being addressed.

"I strongly encourage all municipalities to have their own local complaint mechanisms," she said. "We will be there to make sure that local mechanisms work as they should, to step in where they fail or where they cannot go."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Bear spray attack outside Winnipeg nightclub caught on camera

    Canada News CTV News
    A Winnipeg nightclub owner says he’s still recovering after a stranger allegedly attacked him and others with a powerful spray meant to deter bears. Police are now investigating.Read more on this story from CTV News Winnipeg Source
  • 'Way too young': Family mourns Canadian pilot killed in Honduras crash

    Canada News CTV News
    TRUJILLO, Honduras -- A 32-year-old British Columbia pilot who was killed in a plane crash in Honduras on Saturday is being described by his father as a spontaneous person who was a happy child. Larry Forseth said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press from Honduras that he had spoken with his son Patrick earlier on the morning of the crash. Source
  • Indonesia's incumbent president wins 2nd term, election commission says

    World News CBC News
    Indonesia's Election Commission says the official count from last month's presidential election shows President Joko Widodo won 55.5 per cent of the vote, securing him a second term. The official result from the April 17 election was completed early Tuesday and was almost the same as the preliminary "quick count" results drawn from a sample of polling stations on election day. Source
  • Trudeau credits immigration for Canada's growing tech sector at Toronto conference

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told hundreds of attendees at a conference in Toronto on Monday that Canada's thriving technology sector is a result of the country's openness to immigrants and he hopes Canadians will continue to view immigration positively. Source
  • Lost children rescued after getting trapped overnight on B.C. mountain

    Canada News CTV News
    Two young children who spent the night stranded on Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, B.C., were brought to safety by rescue crews on Monday. Their injured father had been forced to leave them to find help. Source
  • 'Miraculous rescue': Siblings saved after getting trapped overnight on B.C. mountain

    Canada News CTV News
    Two young children who spent the night stranded on Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, B.C., were brought to safety by rescue crews on Monday. Their injured father had been forced to leave them to find help. Source
  • 3 handwritten wills found in Aretha Franklin's home

    World News CBC News
    A lawyer says three handwritten wills have been found in the Detroit-area home of Aretha Franklin, months after her death — including one that was discovered under cushions in the living room. The latest one is dated March 2014 and appears to give the famous singer's assets to family members. Source
  • Architects of post-9-11 CIA interrogation program to testify

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Two former CIA contractors who designed the harsh interrogation program used after the Sept. 11 attacks are being summoned to testify before the military tribunal at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Source
  • Architects of post-9/11 CIA interrogation program to testify

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Two former CIA contractors who designed the harsh interrogation program used after the Sept. 11 attacks are being summoned to testify before the military tribunal at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Source
  • Ex-White House lawyer won't testify after Trump direction

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump directed his former White House Counsel Donald McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena Monday, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that maintains McGahn would have immunity from testifying about his work as a close Trump adviser. Source