Alberta’s Disaster Recovery Program: The Ombudsman’s role, and how to manage the process

The Alberta Ombudsman investigates complaints to determine whether a government entity has acted fairly and reasonably, and whether its actions and decisions were consistent with relevant legislation, policies and procedures. The Ombudsman is independent from government.  We strive to be open, approachable and responsive to the questions and concerns of all Albertans.

Below are some tips to consider if you have a complaint concerning the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP), or feel you were treated unfairly by this process.

Complete the appeals process

The Ombudsman can investigate a complaint once you exhaust all relevant appeal or review processes. If you have a complaint about the DRP’s decision regarding your claim, you need to:

  •  File an Application for Review to the Managing Director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA), the organization that operated the DRP.
    • An Appeals Coordinator will provide a recommendation based on your application, and the Managing Director of the AEMA will issue a written decision.

If you are not satisfied with Managing Director’s decision, you can appeal in writing to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

  • The Minister may agree with the Managing Director’s initial decision, or refer the matter to the Municipal Governance Board for consideration.
    • The Board will notify you and appoint a case manager. A panel of Board members will consider the merits of the appeal. The Board will then prepare a recommendation for the Minister to either confirm the Managing Director’s decision or recommend providing additional assistance. The Minister makes the final decision on the matter.

The DRP and our role

Our office does not have jurisdiction to investigate decisions of Ministers.  In respect of the DRP we can review and investigate the entire process leading up to the Minister’s decision. So, when it comes to the DRP, the Ombudsman can investigate:

  • The Managing Director’s decision, should the Minister decide not to refer the matter to the Municipal Governance Board and simply reaffirms the Managing Director’s decision.
  • Any recommendation made to the Minister whether to support the Managing Director’s decision if the Minister declines to refer the matter to the Municipal Governance Board.
  • The Municipal Governance Board’s recommendation to the Minister.

Take notes, and keep your documents

  • Write down the names of the people you speak with, when you spoke with them and what they said.
  • Treat people respectfully and courteously, and listen carefully to them.
  • Ask questions if you do not understand what is being said.
  • When complaining in writing to our office, clearly explain the issue.
  • Be sure to keep a copy of your correspondence and other documentation.

We urge anyone with a question or concern, at any stage of the process, to contact our office directly. While we may not be able to take immediate investigative action, our intake officers are trained to help you figure out where you’re at in the review process, and the appropriate steps required.  Remember, because the Ombudsman is an office of last resort, you will need to have completed all of the steps in the appeals process outlined above in order for our office to have jurisdiction to investigate your complaint.

For more information:

Call toll-free: 1-888-455-2756

In Calgary: 403-297-6185

In Edmonton: 780-427-2756

Email: info@ombudsman.ab.ca