Annual Report Released
June 23, 2015
Investigations into the death of a child whose family was receiving government services and a review of residential child-care facilities were among the cases addressed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2013-14. During the year 2,260 new inquiries were made to the office.
“It was a typical year,” said acting Ombudsman Christine Delisle-Brennan. “The number of cases was down slightly from 2012-13, and certain trends in the traffic of recent years continued.”
Ms. Delisle-Brennan said those trends included more in-depth investigations and fewer Correctional Services cases, as more complaints by inmates are being dealt with by the institutions.
She said each year a few major cases are launched at the ombudsman’s discretion.
“These are mainly systemic investigations, based on similar recurring complaints. In recent years other investigations have been driven by the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act, the province’s whistleblower legislation, for which the ombudsman is responsible.”
The child death review involved more than a year of research. The review identified a fragmented government approach, communications issues and vague standards. It resulted in 13 recommendations to three government departments, including a revision of the Child Protection Services Manual to update and improve its standards, and a recommendation for a permanent child death review team. Many of the recommendations have been implemented, and work on the others continues. It is being monitored by the office.
Of the 2,260 inquiries or complaints, close to half were resolved by administrative reviews, which are short investigations lasting from a few days to a few weeks. Of the 1,068 cases, 819 were resolved in discussions with complainants and the respondents mediated by ombudsman staff. These informal dispute resolutions are a large component of the ombudsman’s day-to-day operation.
Ms. Delisle-Brennan said around 25 per cent of inquiries and complaints received are beyond the jurisdiction of the office.
“The office provides an important public service by directing those complaints to their appropriate channels, such as federal or private oversight offices, usually with detailed contact information and explanations of the services those offices provide.”
Another significant service of the ombudsman is child advocacy. In 2013-14 this included 603 meetings with youth in the care and custody of provincial government departments. An informal approach to resolution also is used in those cases, usually involving face-to-face meetings with complainants and supervisory staff.
Ombudsman cases are carried out confidentially to protect the privacy of complainants and encourage people to come forward. However, under the Ombudsman Act, the ombudsman has the discretion to make investigation reports public in circumstances where the public interest or the interests of parties involved warrant publication.
Media Contact: Ron Crocker
Office of the Ombudsman
Email: [email protected]