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

  • Another sex assault charge laid against Ont. massage therapist

    Canada News CTV News
    WHITBY, Ont. -- Police have laid another sexual assault charge against a massage therapist from Whitby, Ont. Police originally charged 51-year-old Robert Newey earlier this month after a woman alleged that he had touched her inappropriately during an appointment in December. Source
  • 10-year-old boy drives to store, speeds away in police chase

    World News Toronto Sun
    FOSTORIA, OHIO - Ohio police say an erratic, speeding driver who led an officer on a brief pursuit turned out to be a 10-year-old boy who took his parents’ car without permission and drove 11 miles to a nearby city to shop at a convenience store. Source
  • Victim killed in Surrey, B.C. shooting was targeted: police

    Canada News CTV News
    SURREY, B.C. -- RCMP in Surrey, B.C., say the latest shooting in that city has killed one person and the attack is believed to be targeted. It happened just before 9:15 Monday night as the victim was in a vehicle on 96 Ave. Source
  • Federal court to rule on bid to block Canada-Saudi Arabia arms deal

    Canada News CBC News
    A federal court will rule today on the case of a Montreal law professor who challenged the federal government's decision to approve a $15-billion deal to sell armed military vehicles to Saudi Arabia. Daniel Turp filed for a judicial review in Federal Court, arguing the sale should be blocked due to the country's human rights violations. Source
  • Florida man stabbed dog that wouldn't stop barking: Cops

    World News Toronto Sun
    SUNRISE, FLA. - Police say a South Florida man stabbed his dog in the leg with a kitchen knife when it wouldn’t stop barking. The SunSentinel reports the dog was injured in November but Michael O’Brien wasn’t arrested until Jan. Source
  • Israel approves 2,500 West Bank settlement homes

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel said Tuesday it approved plans to build 2,500 new settler homes in the West Bank, signalling a major ramp-up of construction just days after the swearing-in of U.S. President Donald Trump, whose election has emboldened the settlement movement. Source
  • Garland trial: Police extinguished smouldering burn barrel, found bone, tooth, glasses

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The burn barrel on the farm where the Crown believes Douglas Garland disposed of his victims was left smouldering overnight after the initial police raid, court heard Monday. Staff Sgt. Timothy Walker testified he went to the Airdrie farm north of Calgary the morning of July 5, 2014. Source
  • Internet charmed by small band of women who marched in tiny N.S. village

    Canada News CTV News
    DIGBY, N.S. -- When Gwen Wilson and Melissa Merritt decided at the last minute to organize their own women's march on Saturday, they were prepared to be the only ones trudging down the only road in their rural Nova Scotia village. Source
  • Todd Nicholson named Team Canada's Paralympic chef de mission

    Canada News CBC News
    The Canadian Paralympic Committee has announced that retired sledge hockey player Todd Nicholson will be Team Canada's chef de mission for the 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The 47-year-old Ottawa native competed in five Paralympic Games, including sledge hockey's debut at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Source
  • 'Murder gives me a high'; Teen’s diary leads to 15-year sentence after innocent woman stabbed 21 times

    World News Toronto Sun
    "I stabbed an innocent woman to death earlier today ... It was absolutely fantastic. Murder gives me a high unlike any other. It feels like this crisp unreality, flashing and sparkling, adrenaline and shock." While these lines might sound like the demented writings of John Wayne Gacy or perhaps Charles Manson, they actually appeared in what police said was a diary kept by a teenage girl named Pearl Moen. Source