Access to information makes appeal processes fair

When an Albertan appeals a decision, information on what will or will not be accepted as evidence to support their arguments should be clear and accessible. The Appeals Commission (the Commission) for Alberta Workers’ Compensation issues final decisions on matters adjudicated by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Mr. Watson (not his real name) represented himself in…

Timely intervention accelerates resolution for property owner

Sometimes the Ombudsman’s involvement is short, yet has a big impact on an individual. On a Wednesday in 2021, a rental property owner contacted our office with a complaint about Court Services, a branch within the Justice and Solicitor General Ministry. The caller had a disorderly tenant, and the courts had ruled the renter could…

Rapid response gets inhaler to woman in need

Vulnerable Albertans have a legitimate expectation that those in authority will provide correct information about the benefits to which they are entitled, especially during a time of need. When this expectation is not met, it’s not fair and dilutes our faith in those placed in a position of trust.  In this case, three administrative errors…

Making a difference takes only a moment

When a citizen failed to get answers, the Ombudsman intervened to break the spin cycle. Mr. Hernandez (not his real name) contacted the Ombudsman’s intake line to complain that a councillor, the mayor, and the staff of a municipality were not returning his phone calls or emails about a tax issue.  Mr. Hernandez expected a…

Overlooked in isolation

Communication breakdown leaves inmate without rights. An inmate at a provincial correctional centre called our office stating he was being held in a COVID-19 isolation unit nearly two weeks after he was cleared to be moved out of isolation.  The isolation units in this centre require 24-hour lock-up, leaving inmates with limited time out of…

Fair service is service that delivers

Providing fair and equitable service that is responsive to an individual’s needs is an important part of administrative fairness. In early March 2021, Ms. Smith* called the Ombudsman’s intake line to complain that Alberta Works had held back her monthly cheque for the third time in recent months.  She believed the problem was that the…

Complex issue requires compassionate solution

Responding to a vulnerable individual—an inmate with a history of mental health challenges—required particular sensitivity. The inmate complained that correctional officers used mind control techniques to alter his memory and negatively influence the outcome of his trial. As a first step, Ombudsman staff advised the inmate to elevate his concerns to the centre director. Several…

Ombudsman investigation sparks province wide policy change

First featured in the Ombudsman’s 2019-20 annual report, this case describes a good outcome when a government department committed to consistent assessment of childcare rates for foster parents taking in children with special needs. It also serves as a good example of how the Ombudsman can help bring about large-scale reform.   A foster mother…

Going the extra mile

This case involves Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Indigenous Services Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNHIB) (previously Health Canada). As background, in 2015 an indigenous woman required ambulance services. She believed that as an indigenous person she was exempt from paying the costs. Her understanding was based at least in part…

Painful payment recall sparks policy change

Alberta Maintenance Enforcement (MEP) has agreed with the Ombudsman that creditors should not suffer financially in the event MEP makes an administrative error. A bank imposed daily interest and penalty fees on a mother after she paid off debts using a $50,000 payment from MEP. At the time, MEP believed it had collected long standing…