How We Work

Handling Complaints

Ombudsman Toronto's work takes many shapes and forms. We listen to and analyze all complaints to determine whether and how we can help. If we are unable to handle the complaint because it is outside our jurisdiction, or it is premature because efforts have not been made to resolve the issue at the City, we refer the complainant to the appropriate person or organization.

Enquiries and Investigations

We work as informally, practically and quickly as possible to understand and resolve problems. We consider the issues, gather information, mediate and search for resolutions. We call this work conducting an Enquiry. An Enquiry may take anywhere from a couple of days to several months to complete, depending on its complexity.
Ombudsman Toronto also conducts Enquiries into issues of concern to it, without a complaint. These are called "Own Motion Enquiries". Most Enquiries conclude with a letter to the complainant, explaining the outcome of our work.  Sometimes, we may issue an Enquiry Report.

When an Enquiry reveals that it is necessary and appropriate, we may launch an Investigation. An Investigation is a more involved process than an Enquiry. We provide written notice of the Investigation to the City division or organization we are investigating, gather information, analyze it and write a formal Investigation Report. This process generally takes longer than an Enquiry.

In all our Enquiries and Investigations, we remain impartial and objective. We do not act as an advocate for complainants, or as an apologist for the City. We advocate for fairness.

Working with City Staff to Improve Systems and Service

Our work cannot be accomplished without the co-operation of the Toronto Public Service, including employees of the City and of its agencies, corporations and adjudicative bodies. Staff contributions to our work are essential to improving City services and maintaining public confidence in Toronto's government.
Our Working with Ombudsman Toronto: A Guide for the Toronto Public Service helps City staff know what to expect when they hear from us.

The Power of Ombudsman Toronto's Voice

Ombudsman Toronto does not look to find fault, name, blame or shame. We have no power to order anyone to do anything (except co-operate with our Enquiries and Investigations). Our influence comes from making necessary, reasonable and practical recommendations of ways to improve City services in the public interest.


Although not directly part of our investigative work, Ombudsman Toronto also welcomes requests for consultation from all City divisions, agencies, corporations and adjudicative bodies within our jurisdiction, to help improve systems and services. This is known as "proactive ombudsmanship".


We are pleased to offer outreach sessions to help the public and the public service learn about our work.