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Ombudsman releases 2002 annual report

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Dec 2, 2003

The Manitoba Ombudsman's Annual Report for 2002, relating to his duties under The Ombudsman Act, has been tabled by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

In 2002, the Manitoba Ombudsman received 3,296 concerns and enquiries from the public about government and its agencies. In addition, 792 written complaints were received, a 9% increase in complaints over the previous year.

Manitoba Ombudsman staff worked on 1050 complaint files regarding the administrative actions, omissions or decisions of departments and agencies of provincial and municipal governments, including the City of Winnipeg . 774 complaint files were closed. Of these, 201 cases were resolved or partially resolved. Reviewing the issues associated with these complaints resulted in the creation or revision of a number of policies and procedures within government bodies.

“Enhanced guidelines outlining government procedures and policies help to ensure that all members of the public are treated fairly and equitably,” said the Manitoba Ombudsman. “The Annual Report includes a number of case summaries which show that things can go wrong from time to time, but where there is a commitment to fairness, disputes can be resolved in an informal non-adversarial and non-legalist manner”.

The Office of the Ombudsman continues to struggle with backlogs that impact on the timeliness of investigations into complaints. 276 complaint files were carried into 2003.

Created in 1970, the Office of the Manitoba Ombudsman exists to promote fairness, equity and administrative accountability through independent impartial, non-partisan, and thorough investigation of complaints and legislative compliance reviews.

Under The Ombudsman Act , the Ombudsman investigates complaints 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. The Ombudsman Act was expanded on January 1, 1997 to include more than 200 municipalities. Since January 1, 2003 , the Manitoba Ombudsman has had jurisdiction under The Ombudsman Act to receive and investigate complaints against the City of Winnipeg , which constitutes more than half the population of the province.

The Ombudsman also has responsibilities under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and The Personal Health Information Act . An Access and Privacy Division, created in 1998, investigates complaints and reviews compliance under these Acts. The Personal Health Information Act came into effect on December 11, 1997 . The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act became law on May 4, 1998 , encompassed the City of Winnipeg on August 31, 1998 , and was proclaimed on April 3, 2000 for more than 390 local government, educational and health care bodies. The Manitoba Ombudsman issues a separate annual report involving access and privacy matters.