The City of Toronto's new Ombudsman Susan Opler says her office is building on its accomplishments as it continues its work looking into problems with City services and recommending improvements.
“The office is now eight years old, and has garnered a well-deserved reputation as a strong voice for accountability at the City of Toronto”, says Opler. “We have proven that we can solve individual problems, and improve services affecting people throughout the City. Staff and politicians at City Hall understand and respect our role.”
Opler today released the 2016 Annual Report of Ombudsman Toronto, the new name for the Office of the Ombudsman. The office dealt with 1540 complaints from members of the public in 2016.
Opler says the report highlights a number of instances where residents were treated unfairly. “In many cases, there was no policy in place, there was an error in how a policy was applied, or there was a policy that no-one knew about." Communication failures were also a common theme.
A few examples:
- Ms. N was receiving assistance from Ontario Works when staff at Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS) insisted she seek custody of her children if she wanted her assistance to continue. Following an Ombudsman Toronto enquiry, TESS agreed that she should not have been told that pursuing custody was necessary for receiving benefits. It sent Ms. N an apology, educated staff, and committed to looking for and rectifying other similar cases as well as preventing future ones.
- Residents at two City long-term care homes were not being provided with kosher meals. Ombudsman Toronto met with the City’s Long-term Care Homes division to discuss the fact that this did not comply with provincial law. Kosher meals are now being provided at no extra cost to residents.
- Mr. F completed a form redirecting his utility bills to his tenant, as Mr. F would be out of the country for a while. However, he was not told that this would mean the cancellation of his pre-authorized payments for the bills, which did not get paid while he was away. After an intervention by Ombudsman Toronto, Revenue Services agreed to change the forms to include this information.
People in Toronto depend on City services every day. It is essential that those services be delivered fairly. Ombudsman Toronto's work helps ensure this, and leads to real improvements in the way the City serves the public.
For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
City of Toronto
Ombudsman Toronto listens to and investigates people’s complaints about City services. We are a free and impartial office that is independent of the City administration, holding it accountable to the people it serves.