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…

Persistence pays off for a public guardian complainant

Focus on the people who lodged a complaint, rather than the substance of the complaint resulted in a biased and unfair outcome, the Ombudsman found after looking at an investigation by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee ( the public guardian). The public guardian protects the interests of vulnerable Albertans by providing services,…

Calculating fairness — with interest

In order to satisfy citizens a decision is fair, government authorities should be able to explain it. A man complained Court Services in Alberta Justice and Solicitor General paid inadequate interest on $5,000 he was required to deposit into a court trust fund as security. The money was deposited in the 1990s. When his case…