Meeting Albertans face to face

Visiting communities across Alberta is one of the best ways to connect with people.

That’s why Alberta’s Ombudsman, Peter Hourihan, and a team of investigators have been visiting towns and cities across the province since last spring.

The goal is to hear first-hand from Albertans about the issues and concerns they face when dealing with Alberta government departments, authorities, boards, commissions and the patient concerns resolution process of Alberta Health Services.

“We’d like more people to know about and understand the services our office provides,” said Peter. “Ultimately, one of the most effective ways to reach individual Albertans is on a face-to-face basis, address their questions and explain what it is we do – and what we don’t do.”

Most recently, in early October, Hourihan and investigators visited Grande Prairie and Peace River. The team met residents at a Rotary club meeting, and staff and students at Grande Prairie Regional College. Hourihan delivered a presentation at the Peace River library, and later spoke with seniors at the Peace River Senior’s Drop-in Centre.

Before leaving, the team visited the Peace River Correctional Centre, and toured the facility.

In May, the Ombudsman and investigators brought their message to Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, holding public information sessions at libraries in both cities.

In all communities, the Ombudsman takes time to meet with MLAs or their constituency office staff. The goal is to hear first-hand about issues or questions they have, and to ensure they have our latest brochures, posters and information.

One of the most important parts of the visits is the ability for the public to book time with an investigator for an individual consultation.

Kirsty Larsen, an Ombudsman investigator who has travelled on two community tours, said these consultations are important for both complainants and investigators alike.

“As an investigator, I find the provincial tours provide a unique opportunity for us to personally meet with Albertans across the province,” said Kirsty. “It can be frustrating for those in rural areas who, because of logistics and distance, need to get their questions answered over the phone.  The rural tours give us an opportunity to visit communities and offer a personalized setting to discuss individual concerns, and how we may be able to help with those concerns.”

A trip to Red Deer and Lacombe, scheduled for December 3-4, had to be postponed due to weather.  But the team will hit the road again in early 2014 to continue their visits to Alberta communities.

If you would like to hear from the Ombudsman, call us toll-free 1-888-455-2756, or email us at