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…

Applying all relevant considerations ensures fairness

The Ombudsman exists to help balance the rights of individual citizens against the power of a large bureaucracy. In performing this task, the Ombudsman accepts a secondary function, equal to or nearly equal to the first, to improve the systemic fairness of government. An individual complained she was required to pay a $7,150 overpayment by…

Small town council reviews tax penalty

When can the Ombudsman investigate decisions of elected councilors? When political issues are voted on by elected councilors, an appointed official like the Ombudsman must respect the democratic process and allow those decisions to proceed unchallenged. A political decision might be approving the budget or passing a bylaw to bring in photo radar. At that…

CAO’s letter removes confusion for flooded homeowner

A thorough explanation can go a long way to satisfying a complainant, even when the resolution may not fully correct the underlying problem. A homeowner had lived in his home for many years when he began to experiencing flooding. He suspected it was caused by infill redevelopment in his neighbourhood. When the homeowner first contacted…

Forthright letter moves case forward

Opting to apply our early resolution process is more than expedient. Quicker, less formal intervention may also help restore relationships. In the case of Children’s Services, there can be several stakeholders: children; parents; extended family; custodial parents; and Children’s Services itself. A grandmother termed the treatment she received from the local Children’s Services office “insulting…