For City Staff

Working with Ombudsman Toronto: A Guide for the Toronto Public Service 

Working with Ombudsman Toronto is an opportunity to get objective recommendations on how to improve service to the public. Below is a guide in the form of frequently asked questions to help City staff know what to expect when they hear from us. We welcome input on this guide.

Why is my voice important to the work of Ombudsman Toronto?

Ombudsman Toronto listens to all parties involved when it receives a complaint. That means we need to contact staff who may have relevant information. Our goal is to ensure that all voices are heard.

Why is Ombudsman Toronto contacting me?

When we receive a complaint or identify an issue we need to look into, we need to gather information about it. Often, that can be done with a quick phone call. Sometimes it means requesting documents or conducting in-person interviews. We want and need information from you in order to fairly evaluate the complaint or issue.

When Ombudsman Toronto Calls

What do I do when Ombudsman Toronto contacts me?

You must promptly provide all the documents and information we request, and answer our questions fully and honestly. Also, it's important to be flexible and open to finding solutions. We try to resolve problems as quickly and informally as possible.

Will Ombudsman Toronto provide me with the complaint details?

Yes. We will tell you the details of the complaint so you understand why we are calling and what information we require.

What if I don't have the answer to your question?

That's fine. Simply tell us why, and point us to someone who does.

Is the information I provide confidential?

Our work on Enquiries and Investigations is exempt from disclosure under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We can't be required to testify about our work by law. We have a legal duty of confidentiality and we reveal in public reports only what is necessary in the public interest.

Ombudsman Toronto Interviews

Will you give me the questions in advance of an interview?

No, that is not our practice. We may, however, ask you before an interview to bring certain documents with you. Also, don't hesitate to share additional information, if you think it may be relevant.

How long are interviews?

It depends on the nature of the complaint or issue we are reviewing. We will provide you with our best estimate of the time required when we set up the interview.

Will the interview be recorded?

Sometimes, we record interviews to ensure that we accurately capture the information you provide. We always take notes.

What happens after I speak with someone from Ombudsman Toronto?

We may contact you again to clarify information or ask additional questions. Depending on the outcome of our Enquiry or Investigation, we may notify you once it's complete. We may write a public report, which may contain some of the information you provided to us.  If we do, we will take care not to identify you unless it is necessary.

Should I notify my supervisor when I meet with Ombudsman Toronto?

If you require time off from your duties to speak with us you should notify your supervisor for the reason of your absence and how long you will be away. 

What if my supervisor asks me what was discussed in the interview?

While your supervisor has the right to know where you are, the contents of our interview are confidential. You should not share them with anyone. If at any time you believe your supervisor is requiring you to share the details of our discussion, please raise this with us.  

Can my supervisor take action against me for speaking with Ombudsman Toronto?

No. If you fear you are being penalized in any way for participating in the work of Ombudsman Toronto, please contact us as soon as possible.                                                        

For Supervisors

As a supervisor, what do I do when Ombudsman Toronto contacts my employees?

Support them. Give them time off to speak with us. Tell them that there is nothing to fear, as we are not looking for employee mistakes. We are trying to resolve a complaint from a member of the public and/or look for ways to improve systems in the public interest. You and they should welcome our involvement.

resources for city staff

The following resources were created to help City of Toronto staff serve people fairly:

Six for the Six

Six simple pieces of advice for Toronto's public servcants on treating people fairly, in poster form

Difficult Behaviour Tip Sheet

10 steps to help Toronto's public servants respond fairly to difficult behaviour.