January 12, 2015

Update: Ontario Ombudsman Says He May Second-Guess University Ombuds

Last December, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario granted new oversight powers to the Ontario Ombudsman, including universities.  When the Ontario Ombudsman, Andr√© Marin said he was eager to flex his new legislative muscles, some wondered whether this could affect existing Ombuds programs at universities newly under his purview.  In an editorial in the Toronto Sun, Marin said that existing University Ombuds programs would not be a deterrent to an investigation.

He writes:
[A] few self-proclaimed experts have enlisted straw men to stoke fears about what will happen when we step into these new areas.

So, to clear the air, I’d like to share eight simple facts about Bill 8 with you:
* * * 
7. We will work with local accountability mechanisms and refer issues back to them wherever possible. My job is to oversee and ensure government bodies work properly, not do their work for them. When we investigated the effectiveness of the Special Investigations Unit, or the monitoring of the use of force by correctional officers, we didn’t redo the provincial bodies’ investigations. We figured out ways to help them work better. So it will be for municipalities, universities and school boards. If there’s a municipal integrity commissioner or a university ombudsman in place, great! Local authorities are best placed to handle local issues. We will step in where they can’t — or won’t — be effective. (Your municipality can still hire its own closed-meeting investigator instead of using the free services of our office if it chooses, but that’s a topic for another day.)
(Toronto Sun [emphasis added].)

Related post: Will the Ontario Ombudsman's New Powers Impact University Ombuds?

1 comment:

  1. See: Nothing to worry about.
    Marin will step in only if he thinks it's necessary.
    -Angry Ombuds