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Manitoba Ombudsman releases 2003 Annual Report under The Ombudsman Act

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Feb 2, 2005

In his 2003 Annual Report to the Legislative Assembly, Ombudsman Barry Tuckett stated that there is an important need for government to refresh its commitment to open, accountable, and fair government in a visible way.

Mr. Tuckett's report cited obstacles that impede the office's effectiveness and negatively impact on the public's confidence and trust in the good work of government.

“The cases where public bodies fail to respond to the Ombudsman in a timely manner or unreasonably dispute the Ombudsman's opinions and recommendations disproportionately undermine public recognition of the good work of government,” said the Manitoba Ombudsman. “I am concerned about the degree to which these few cases result in a loss of public credibility for government and the Ombudsman.”

In particular, the Report identified the following behaviours and activities of public bodies that should be addressed:

  • looking to legalize rather than looking for fairness,
  • worrying about precedents,
  • reluctance to acknowledge mistakes, and
  • overreacting to financial implications.

In 2003, the Manitoba Ombudsman received more than 4700 telephone inquiries, drop-ins, and formal complaints from members of the public, an increase of more than 700 contacts over the previous year.

More than 900 formal complaints were made to the Manitoba Ombudsman in 2003 regarding the administrative actions, omissions or decisions of boards, corporations, departments and agencies of provincial and municipal governments, including the City of Winnipeg .

This will be the last annual report of Mr. Tuckett under The Ombudsman Act as he will be retiring on February 11, 2005 .

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 of 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.

For more information, contact: Barry Tuckett, Manitoba Ombudsman at (204) 982-9130 or 1-800-665-0531 (in Manitoba).