Backgrounder

Who We Are

Ombudsman Toronto is led by Susan Opler, a lawyer for 30 years with extensive experience as a litigator, prosecutor, mediator, adjudicator and educator, who assumed the role of Ombudsman on September 19, 2016. The Ombudsman leads a team of 12 professionals.

What We Do

Ombudsman Toronto impartially investigates complaints and concerns about City administration and unfairness in the delivery of City services. Our office also has the legal power to investigate on its own initiative.
 
Ombudsman Toronto opened for business in 2009. It was established by the City of Toronto Act, 2006, provincial legislation that gives the office broad jurisdiction and powers. We oversee all City divisions and most City agencies, corporations and adjudicative bodies. Our legal mandate is “to investigate in an independent manner any decision or recommendation made or any act done or omitted in the course of the administration of the City…". The Ombudsman can issue subpoenas to obtain documents and interview witnesses.
 
The Ombudsman reports directly to City Council, and the office operates independently of the City administration. Information we gather when looking into an issue(s) is exempt from disclosure under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Ombudsman’s findings and recommendations are final and cannot be appealed. We cannot be compelled to testify in court.
 
The goal of the Ombudsman is to ensure that City services are fair and equitable. While we cannot compel the City to take action, we recommend changes to improve service to the public. Since the office opened in 2009, every one of our recommendations has been accepted. 

Who We Help

Ombudsman Toronto can help anyone who has interacted with the City. We give people a free, independent, impartial and confidential review of their complaint, after efforts to resolve the issue directly with the City have failed. If a complaint is outside of our scope, we refer to the appropriate person or organization.
 

How We Work

Most of our work is done informally, by way of an Enquiry. This involves gathering information, considering issues, mediating and searching for solutions. An Enquiry may take anywhere from a couple of days to several months to complete and in some cases may result in a publicly released report.
 
An Investigation is a more formal process that usually results in a public report. Following an Enquiry, the Ombudsman may determine an Investigation is necessary if the issue(s) involved is sufficiently complex, systemic and/or of significant public interest.

Since the office opened in 2009, it has dealt with thousands of complaints, conducted hundreds of Enquiries and Investigations and recommended more than 350 improvements to City services.

For more information or to arrange interviews:

Ombudsman Toronto
Phone: 416-392-7062
ombudsman@toronto.ca