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Ontario’s watchdog to oversee all Simcoe County councils

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In Adjala-Tosorontio
Jun 10th, 2015
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Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin

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.

One Response to “Ontario’s watchdog to oversee all Simcoe County councils”

  1. Peter Lomath says:

    A long time coming and I fully expect the ombudsman to be flooded with complaints on the manner in which our municipalities are pushing the envelope with their abuse of both the Municipal and Privacy/FOI Acts.

    It’s a great pity that the powers that be in Toronto did not also force ALL municipalities to fall under the ombudsman for in-camera matters instead of allowing them to choose a system that costs every taxpayer extra money and is a far more “lenient” investigation of their possible testing of the limits of legislation.

    Look for a rush by Simcoe municipalities to appoint their own “friendly” integrity commissioners so that they can avoid the first stage of investigation.

    What a system! – Two levels of choice for councils to subvert the system! (Ombudsman – Tough, Local Integrity Commissioner – probably friendly since he/she is chosen NOT by the electorate but by the very people who need to be investigated)

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