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…

Unique need activates medical product list review

In exceptional circumstances, Ombudsman intervention can result in an alternate solution when a complainant is denied a benefit. A woman needed nephrostomy bags following cancer surgery. The woman’s condition was considered unusual in that her need for the bags was likely to be permanent. She applied to Alberta Aids to Daily Living for assistance. Alberta…

Investigation leads to overpayment forgiveness

A client of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program complained about an AISH Appeal Panel decision he believed created an apprehension of bias. This bias was found in the panel’s written decision. The most significant example of bias was a sentence claiming the client displayed “considerable hostility” toward the panel. In response…

A call of last resort…with results

Tania Baldwin is no quitter, but she was almost out of options. As a last resort, she picked up the phone and called the Alberta Ombudsman. She’s glad she did. In 2008, her daughter Emma, suffering from progressive hearing loss, had been turned down for a second cochlear implant by the former Calgary Health Region.…

Measuring the duty of fairness

An Albertan complained the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program unfairly denied her funds to pay a portion of her telephone bill after she was victimized by an alleged telephone fraud.  Certain personal benefit decisions can be appealed to the Citizens’ Appeal Panel, but there are certain personal benefit decisions where the minister has decision-making…

Finding a middle way

A patient wanted to lodge a complaint against a health professional. There was just one problem: the patient could not remember the person’s full name. While he could recall the professional’s first name, position and employer, that was not enough for the college to agree to hear the patient’s complaint of unprofessional conduct. When investigating…