The legal duties and powers of Ombudsman Toronto are set out in sections 170 to 176 of the City of Toronto Act, 2006
and Chapter 3 of the Toronto Municipal Code
. The Ombudsman is an independent Officer of Council, accountable to Council as a whole. Ombudsman Toronto operates at arm's length from the City administration with full control over staffing, budget allocation and procedures.
Our legal mandate is “to investigate any decision or recommendation made, or any act done or not done, in administration of the City, its agencies, boards and commissions”.
Our job is to investigate administrative decisions, acts and omissions of the City government that are unjust or discriminatory and systems that serve the public poorly.
To effectively fulfill this mandate, the law provides the following powers to Ombudsman Toronto:
- We can enter premises and issue subpoenas to interview witnesses and obtain documents.
- Our findings and recommendations are final and are not subject to review or appeal.
- Information on our work is exempt from disclosure under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).
- We are immune from liability and cannot be required to testify in court about our investigative work.
In looking at administrative fairness, we focus on three aspects of fairness, recognized in administrative law: Fair Process, Fair Outcome and Fair Treatment.
Fair process looks at how an administrative decision is made. It depends on clear communication, the opportunity to be heard, reasonable timelines and an explanation of the outcome and reasons for it.
Fair outcome looks at the legal authority for a decision or action, whether it was based on relevant information and considerations, and whether rules, policies and procedures are applied consistently and objectively.
Fair treatment looks at equity, inclusivity and accessibility, and whether someone is treated with dignity and respect.