Ontario’s watchdog to oversee all Simcoe County councils
By Sara Carson Orillia Today
Ontario’s ombudsman will soon oversee all of Simcoe County’s councils and their hired integrity commissioners.
On May 21, Ontario ombudsman André Marin announced when this oversight, under the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, will come into force.
You can lodge complaints about school boards as of Sept. 1 and can make complaints about municipalities and universities as of Jan. 1.
Midland and Penetanguishene are the only municipalities in Simcoe County using the ombudsman’s free investigation services.
Barrie, Orillia, the County of Simcoe and the remaining towns and townships hire their own investigator.
Spokesperson Linda Williamson said the ombudsman will not replace local integrity commissioners, but will provide oversight.
Integrity commissioners are encouraged to resolve issues at the local level wherever possible, she said.
“We work the same way with provincial bodies, referring complaints to the appropriate place for resolution. The ombudsman is the office of last resort,” Williamson said. “If resolution is not possible, or more complex or systemic issues are involved, then we might conduct an investigation.”
The ombudsman’s office will release more details in the coming weeks.