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

  • Ex-cop says Duterte paid him and others to kill suspects

    World News CTV News
    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, berates erring policemen during an audience at the Presidential Palace grounds in Manila, Philippines, on Feb. 7, 2017. (Robinson Ninal / Presidential Photographers Division, Malacanang Palace) Source
  • Video footage shows attack in airport on Kim Jong Nam

    World News CTV News
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Security camera footage obtained by Japanese television appears to show a careful and deliberate attack last week on the exiled half brother of North Korea's ruler. The footage, obtained by Fuji TV and often grainy and blurred, seems to show two women approaching Kim Jong Nam from different directions as he stands at a ticketing kiosk at the budget terminal of the Kuala Lumpur airport. Source
  • Trump's 'streamlined' travel ban targets same countries

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — A draft of President Donald Trump’s revised immigration ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order and exempts travellers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S., even if they haven’t used it yet. Source
  • B.C. woman calls for change to Air Canada's dog policy

    Canada News CTV News
    A B.C. woman is speaking out against Air Canada's policy on transporting certain types of dogs, after her pit bull-cross got stuck in Calgary after a medical procedure. Robyn Larocque, who lives in Highlands, near Victoria, B.C. Source
  • On frozen fields, North Korean farmers prep for battle ahead

    World News CTV News
    PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of -- Plug your noses and ready your "Juche fertilizer." It's time to prep the frozen fields in North Korea. North Korea relies on its farmers to squeeze absolutely all they can out of every harvest. Source
  • Trump's revised travel ban targets same countries: AP source

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- A draft of President Donald Trump's revised immigration ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order and exempts travellers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S. Source
  • The force is with Everett; Social media helps brings in Star Wars Kraft Dinner for autistic boy

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    NANAIMO, B.C. — Hundreds of boxes of a limited-edition pasta have filled the home of a family in Nanaimo, B.C., following a plea to help their autistic son. Reed Botwright put out a call on social media last week when he and his wife could not track down any more boxes of Star Wars Kraft Dinner, one of the only foods their six-year-old son Everett will eat. Source
  • Man seen in photos now 'main suspect' in Indiana double homicide

    World News Toronto Sun
    DELPHI, Ind. — A man photographed walking along a northern Indiana trail system around the time two teenage girls later found slain were dropped off by a relative is now considered “the main suspect” in their killings, State Police said Sunday. Source
  • Father of teen drug user urges parents to band together to save lives

    Canada News CTV News
    As an Ottawa-area family laid their 14-year-old daughter to rest Sunday following an apparent overdose, a local father is speaking up about his own teenage daughter’s struggle with drugs in the hope of saving lives. Source
  • Colorado town getting weed shop with drive-through window

    World News CTV News
    PARACHUTE, Colo. - The western Colorado town of Parachute is getting a drive-through marijuana shop believed to be the first in the state. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported Saturday the Parachute Board of Trustees approved a business license for Tumbleweed Express last week. Source