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Ombudsman releases Annual Report

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Feb 21, 2001

Manitoba Ombudsman Barry Tuckett today released his Annual Report which included a number of service improvements that emerged as a result of the 4403 enquiries and complaints received by his Office in 1999.

The report noted that the Office assisted in resolving or partially resolving hundreds of disputes between people and government bodies.

"The determination of Manitobans to stand up for their rights when they feel principles of fairness and equity have not been met, gives the Ombudsman the opportunity to work cooperatively with the public and the government to resolve countless individual concerns," said Tuckett. "The process makes a significant contribution to ensuring that public service practices in our province continue to adapt and improve."

The total number of enquiries and complaints to the Ombudsman in 1999 increased by more than 10% over the previous year and covered many government departments and agencies. Of the 4,403 complaints and enquiries received in 1999 by the Ombudsman Division of the Office of the Provincial Ombudsman, 885 citizens made formal written complaints. Including cases carried forward from previous years, 973 cases were completed.

In releasing his Annual Report, Tuckett noted that the vast majority of civil servants and public service providers genuinely want to provide good service. He stated however that even in areas of government with a tradition of adhering to the highest possible administrative standards, mistakes and errors in judgement can still occur. Most often people seek the services of an Ombudsman because:

  • they become lost or entangled in jurisdictional shuffles between public service providers
  • they do not fully understand the decisions that have been made about them by service providers
  • there has been miscommunication between the complainant and the government employee
  • they feel that they have been treated unfairly by government
  • they don't feel their concerns have been heard

Tuckett also attributed the increase in complaints and enquiries in 1999 to a gradual shift in public expectation.

"In the past, people used to be more willing to accept what they were told and less willing to challenge senior officials in government, politicians, and professionals such as doctors and lawyers," said Tuckett. "It's great for democracy when people are willing to participate by questioning and challenging the actions and decisions which they do not feel support the principles of fairness, equity, openness and accountability."

Created in 1970, the Office of the Provincial Ombudsman exists to promote fairness, equity and administrative accountability through independent and impartial investigation of complaints and legislative compliance reviews. The Ombudsman investigates complaints under The Ombudsman Act concerning any act, decision, recommendation or omission related to a matter of administration by any department or agency of the provincial government or a municipal Government. An Access and Privacy Division, created in 1998, investigates complaints and reviews compliance under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and The Personal Health Information Act.

For more information about this report, contact Barry Tuckett, Manitoba Ombudsman, at (204) 982-9130 or, toll free in Manitoba, 1-800-665-0531.