Ombudsman Praises Heroism of City Staff, Releases Annual Report

25 June 2020

The City of Toronto Ombudsman today praised the performance of the thousands of City staff who have continued providing services to people in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Releasing her 2019 Annual Report today, Susan Opler said City staff have been challenged like never before by the COVID-19 outbreak. “We have all benefited from their heroic response. We have seen them work tirelessly to provide critical and essential services to people in Toronto, particularly to our most vulnerable. Like so many others, I am sincerely grateful for their efforts.”
 
Opler said 2019 was another busy year for Ombudsman Toronto. Her office issued four public reports, including one that identified problems with how the TTC investigated an act of alleged anti-Black racism by fare inspectors. As a result of the Ombudsman’s work, the TTC is strengthening its investigation process and committed to an agency-wide anti-racism strategy, with implementation already underway.
 
Ombudsman Toronto handled 2,319 complaints from the public in 2019, an increase of 9% over the year before. They included complaints that:
  • The City never told a woman who was disputing a parking ticket that it had confirmed the ticket and she would therefore have to pay a hefty fine before she could renew her driver’s license.
  • Tenants in a Toronto Community Housing Corporation high-rise were not given enough notice that all power in the building would be shut off for two days.
  • TTC’s Wheel-Trans service had dropped off a young woman with special needs at an incorrect location.
  • City operated Long-Term Care Homes were requiring substitute decision makers to be guarantors for residents’ fees, despite that fact that the province had found in 2018 that this was unlawful.
While these cases and hundreds of others were addressed with the help of her office, Toronto’s Ombudsman said they were compounded by a deeper problem. “People have an essential right to be heard when they have a complaint about their local government,” said Opler. “But the City still does not have clear, effective or consistent procedures for handling complaints about its departments and its agencies, boards and corporations. This is not fair to the public.”
 
The Ombudsman said the City Manager has assured her the problem will be fixed this year, and she looks forward to the results.
 
Ombudsman Toronto’s 2019 Annual Report and an Ombudsman Toronto backgrounder are available at ombudsmantoronto.ca.
 
For more information, contact:
Natalie Kaiser
Ombudsman Toronto
Office:  416-397-5435
Cell: 647-472-0873
Natalie.Kaiser@toronto.ca
 
Ombudsman Toronto listens to and investigates people’s complaints and concerns about City administration and the fairness of City services. We are a free and impartial office that operates independently from the City, holding it accountable to the people it serves.