New legislation transfers jurisdiction over child protection system and French language
Toronto, Dec. 06, 2018 - Ombudsman Paul Dubé today committed his
office to the new responsibilities transferred to it under the Restoring Trust,
Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018 (the government's fall economic statement,
also known as Bill 57), which was passed in the Legislature this afternoon. The
legislation expands the Ombudsman's mandate to include children's aid societies
and French-language services.
"While a period of transition will present considerable challenges for us and our
new stakeholders alike, we look forward to helping Ontarians with issues in these
new areas, just as we have helped them with other public sector bodies for 43 years
– through independent, impartial investigations, confidential complaint resolutions,
and recommendations for positive, systemic change," Mr. Dubé said.
The Ombudsman saluted the work of French Language Services Commissioner François
Boileau, Child Advocate Irwin Elman, and Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe,
who will no longer be independent officers of the Legislature once the legislation
is in force. Instead, responsibilities of the first two officers will be transferred
to the Ombudsman, while those of the third will be assumed by the Auditor General.
"Thanks to their expertise in each of these areas and passion for their work, my
three colleagues have brought about profound improvements," Mr. Dubé said. "I have
already begun consulting with Mr. Boileau and Mr. Elman, and am grateful for their
assistance. I have assured them that my office will respect and build on their legacy
and their relationships with the stakeholders they have so ably served."
No date has yet been set for these changes to become effective, although the legislation
says it must be no later than May 1, 2019. Until the legislation is in effect, all
of the officers' work will continue as usual.
Mr. Dubé noted that he has also been in contact with the responsible ministers (Children,
Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod and Francophone Affairs Minister
Caroline Mulroney) and senior ministry staff to discuss details of the new law's
Among other things, the law stipulates that the Ombudsman establish a Deputy Ombudsman
position, to be known as the French Languages Services Commissioner. In addition
to responding to and investigating complaints about French language services in
the province, the Commissioner will continue to promote French language rights and
issue an annual report.
"This structure will allow us to preserve the Commissioner's role – within our office
– as a promoter of linguistic equity" Mr. Dubé said, noting that he recommended
the legislation enable such a role in his submission to the Standing Committee on
Finance and Economic Affairs this week.
The law also makes clear that the Ombudsman will complete any of the Child Advocate's
ongoing investigations. However, Mr. Dubé said he is seeking further clarification
from the government about its plans for the advocacy function of that office, which
the Minister has indicated will be assumed within the Ministry.
As he also noted in his December 3 written submission to the Standing Committee,
Mr. Dubé has informed the Board of Internal Economy that he will present a new budget
in the coming weeks that sets out the resources his office will need to implement
the changes, including the transfer of employees.
"I am confident that there is enormous talent and professionalism in both of the
offices that will be joining ours, and a shared passion among all staff for the
kind of administrative oversight work we all do," he said. "However, we only learned
of these proposed changes three weeks ago; in the coming weeks and months, we will
obtain the information we need to work out the logistics."
Today marks the second time in four years that the Ombudsman's mandate has been
expanded. In December 2014, the previous government passed legislation that effectively
doubled the size of the Ombudsman's mandate, extending his oversight to municipalities,
universities and school boards – changes that came into full effect by January 1,
Together with today's legislation, these changes mark the most significant expansion
of the Ombudsman's jurisdiction in the office's history, although the first Ombudsman,
Arthur Maloney, called for his mandate to be expanded to all publicly funded bodies
in the province in 1979.
"The past three years have been extremely busy as we implemented our growth strategy,
but our experience in reaching out to – and working with - new stakeholders over
the past few years has been overwhelmingly positive," Mr. Dubé said. "Both the public
and the public sector bodies themselves have grown to appreciate the value of independent
oversight and the manner in which we operate, because it helps improve public services.
In our new areas of jurisdiction, we will build on the examples of the existing
officers, along with our decades of experience in systemic investigation and complaint
The Ombudsman is an independent, impartial officer of the Ontario Legislature who
resolves and investigates more than 20,000 public complaints per year about more
than 1,000 public sector bodies, including all provincial ministries, agencies,
corporations, boards, commissions and tribunals, as well as municipalities, universities
and school boards. He also has the power to investigate broad systemic issues of
maladministration on his own motion, without receiving a complaint.
Read the Ombudsman's submission to the Standing Committee