This is the third article in a series of articles Alberta Municipalities, Rural Municipalities of Alberta and the Alberta Ombudsman produced to provide an update, four years into the Ombudsman’s office handling complaints involving municipalities.
Complaints have value, and when channeled effectively, offer municipalities the opportunity to improve operations, standards, and service delivery. However, when Ombudsman investigators contact municipal administrators, occasionally they receive feedback that a particular complainant is unreasonable and consumes a disproportionate amount of time and resources. Administrators ask how they can avoid allowing the person to impose an undue burden on the organization. Some complainant behaviours can pose a risk to day-to-day operations and the wellbeing of staff.
The Alberta Ombudsman has developed a guide to assist public authorities in managing unreasonable complainant conduct fairly and determining when it may be appropriate to restrict communication. Included in the guide, are 10 Tips for dealing with unreasonable conduct by complainants, a set of principles that offer strategies for interacting with individuals exhibiting challenging behaviour.
Remember, this guide is not meant to be prescriptive, but instead can assist authorities in developing a fair and reasonable policy that is suited to their own unique needs and circumstances.