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To resolve this case we contacted the local ODSP office. Staff there had the case
reviewed, and as a result, determined that a cheque should be released immediately.
If you have tried all available complaint and appeal procedures without a solution,
then the Ombudsman may be able to help. Often problems are resolved informally by
phone calls. During the 2002-2003 fiscal year, 50 percent of all complaints were
resolved within eight days.
In 2003 the Ombudsman of Ontario was Clare Lewis, Q.C. He is independent and impartial
of both the public service and of the political parties. The Ombudsman was an Officer
of the Provincial Legislature. He was neither an advocate for the complainant nor
an apologist for the government. Mr. Lewis was who himself has experienced hearing
loss, wanted to ensure all communities in Ontario know about and can access the services
of the Ombudsman's office.
As an advocate for fairness, the Ombudsman is responsible for the investigation and
resolution of complaints about public administration by governmental organizations
such as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, the Ontario Disability Support
Program, the Family Responsibility Office, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
and the Ministry of Transportation among others.
The Ombudsman may also investigate on his "own motion", system wide or systemic issues
that affect people in Ontario. If you look at our annual reports, you will find dozens
of examples of own motion case studies. Some notable examples include overcrowding
in correctional facilities, the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal's decision on rent
increases based on extraordinary utility costs and the differences between Cancer
Care Ontario and the Northern Health Travel Grant. The own motion investigation into
the FRO resulted in a recommendation that the FRO's computer technology must be replaced,
if the agency is to meet its mandate effectively. Mr. Lewis stated again this year
in his Annual Report that FRO's "continued inadequate technological base will inevitably
have negative impact on staff morale and performance. I recommendended that all steps
necessary be taken to secure adequate resources to permit the FRO to meet its mandate."
There are certain types of complaints the Ombudsman cannot investigate. For example,
federal governmental matters such as immigration or Canada Pension Plan do not fall
under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. Municipal government problems such as public
housing, or garbage pick-up are also not within the Ombudsman's authority. The Ombudsman
has no jurisdiction over the courts or private companies. Ombudsman Ontario staff
will make every effort to provide you with information and referrals to help you
try and find a solution to your problem. If you have a problem that we can assist
you with, when you contact us, we need to know what you have done so far, who you
have spoken with and when.
All inquiries and investigations are conducted free of charge and are confidential.
Complaints can be made in writing, in person, by telephone, by Internet, TTY, fax
or by cassette recording.
Do You Have A Complaint About Ontario Government Services?
Ombudsman Ontario may be able to help you. Did you know that when you have a complaint
and do not know what else to do Ombudsman Ontario may be able to help you?
You may think no one can do anything about your problem, or that it is too small.
But if you feel a provincial government organization has treated you in way that
is unfair, illegal, unreasonable, mistaken, or just plain wrong, you should bring
your matter forward to the Ombudsman's office. You may succeed in getting your own
problem solved and you might help make changes so others are treated more fairly.
Ms X complained that she was receiving benefits from the Ontario Disability Support
Program (ODSP). She had experienced extreme financial hardship and the bank was foreclosing
on her home. She contacted ODSP, who advised her that until she moved into a less
expensive residence, she was ineligible for assistance.
Ms X subsequently found a less expensive residence. She submitted an application
for Community Start-Up Allowance to assist with her moving expenses. After a period
of two weeks the ODSP had still not reviewed the application. Ms X noted that she
needed to sign a new lease and be out of her current residence by the end of the
week. As a result of the Ombudsman's staff enquiries, Ms X's application was processed
and approved within two days and arrangements were made for her to pick up a cheque
for her moving expenses.
Ms Z complained to the Ombudsman because she had not received her support payments
for two months and despite many attempts, she had been unable to reach the Family
Responsibility Office (the FRO) by telephone to find out where her money was. Ombudsman
Ontario staff contacted the FRO, which advised that it had tried without successfully
to deposit money directly into Ms Z's bank account. No one at the FRO had taken note
of this problem and Ms Z's money was being held in suspense. As a result of the Ombudsman's
enquiry, Ms Z's case was reviewed further by the FRO and the money was mailed to
her the same day.
A woman contacted Ombudsman Ontario in 2002. She had been injured in 1963, and since
then has suffered from depression. She was receiving a pension from the Workplace
Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), but complained that the WSIB failed to pay her
interest on pension arrears the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal had
awarded her in 2000. After she contacted us, Ombudsman staff contacted WSIB and determined
that, in accordance with WSIB's policy she was entitled to receive interest on her
pension arrears. As a result of our enquiry, the WSIB agreed to pay interest and
she received a cheque for $16,613.80.
A consumer survivor contacted the Ombudsman office to complain that her benefit cheque
was being held. She indicated that she had been hospitalized for two weeks of the
month. Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits are meant to cover the
cost of maintaining a private residence, and when people are residing elsewhere,
such as a hospital or a correction facility, ODSP would not generally pay for that
period. However, during that month the consumer had split her time between her home
and the hospital, she should have received a portion of her normal benefits.
Awareness of Ombudsman Ontario among people who are Deaf