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

  • Families of workers killed in B.C. train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

    Canada News CTV News
    FIELD, B.C. -- Families of two of three people killed in a train derailment near the British Columbia-Alberta boundary have filed lawsuits alleging negligence. The westbound Canadian Pacific train was parked on a grade and had its air brakes on in February 2019, when it started rolling on its own, gaining speeds far above the limit for the mountain pass near Field, B.C. Source
  • Budget vows to build 'for the long term' as it promises child care cash, projects massive deficits

    Canada News CBC News
    Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's first federal budget projects deep deficits for years to come as it promises to support people through the pandemic crisis and make Canada's economy greener and more welcoming to women. "This budget is about finishing the fight against COVID. Source
  • Six people in Vaughan, Ont. injected with saline instead of COVID-19 vaccine

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Six people in Vaughan, Ont. were injected with saline when they were supposed to be getting the COVID-19 vaccine, health officials say. Mackenzie Health said the six people were injected with saline, which is used to dilute the COVID-19 vaccine prior to use, on March 28. Source
  • Kahnawake vaccinates teens as community's mass vaccination campaign comes to an end

    Canada News CBC News
    While only about 0.2 per cent of teens have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Canada, a First Nation in Quebec included them in its mass vaccination campaign. Gracie Diabo from Kahnawake, Que., received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a few days before her 18th birthday last week as the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community wrapped up its month-long mass vaccination clinic. Source
  • Here's what you need to know about the Chauvin trial closing arguments, deliberations and verdict

    World News CTV News
    Court began Monday morning in the State v. Derek Chauvin at around 10 a.m. ET in a Hennepin County Courtroom in Minneapolis. After Judge Peter Cahill gave instructions, prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivered the closing argument for the state of Minnesota. Source
  • Otters at Georgia Aquarium test positive for coronavirus

    World News CTV News
    The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta says its Asian small-clawed otters tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. The aquarium announced on Sunday that it tested the otters after they showed "mild respiratory symptoms including sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy, and coughing. Source
  • Coast Guard: Search for missing crew to be suspended

    World News CTV News
    CUT OFF, LA. -- U.S. Coast Guard says the search for crew members who disappeared when a lift boat capsized off Louisiana will be suspended at sunset Monday. Capt. Will Watson, commander of the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, said at a press conference that authorities do not expect to find more survivors from the vessel. Source
  • Union alleges Amazon interfered with failed vote by threatening layoffs

    World News CBC News
    The retail union that failed to organize Amazon workers at an Alabama warehouse wants the results of a recent vote to be thrown out, saying that the company illegally interfered with the process. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said in a filing that Amazon threatened workers with layoffs and even the closing of the warehouse if they unionized. Source
  • Manitoba changing rules on gathering sizes and business capacity as third wave of pandemic arrives

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is bringing in new public health orders in an attempt to slow down the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes to gathering rules and business capacity. Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Source
  • All of Iqaluit's COVID-19 cases are adults, most in their 20s and 30s

    Canada News CTV News
    Tracking every case of COVID-19 in Canada Coronavirus vaccination tracker: How many people in Canada have received shots? Source