In 2018, changes to the Ombudsman Act expanded the Ombudsman’s authority to investigate any administrative decision, recommendation, act, or omission of a municipality. Since then, the primary task of the Alberta Ombudsman has been to instill confidence in Albertans that involving the Ombudsman is a fair and effective way to resolve municipal complaints.
The Alberta Ombudsman acts as an impartial third-party reviewer. Most complaints can be resolved at a low level but where necessary, the Ombudsman will investigate to determine whether a municipality has acted fairly and reasonably.
If a citizen feels they were treated unfairly when accessing a municipal program or service, they are welcome to call our office. When a call comes in, an investigator will speak with the complainant and make every effort to understand the complainant’s position. We may inquire as to what steps the citizen has taken to resolve the issue and provide information if further review or appeal is available to them. The investigator may contact the municipality to ask questions or to attempt to resolve the situation as a means of early resolution. This interaction also allows the Ombudsman’s staff to build relationships, describe the office’s role and if appropriate, facilitate direct communication between the complainant and the municipality. Often a timely resolution of the complainant’s problem is the result.
For more on the Ombudsman work with this important sector, see Building Relationships with Albertans – Municipality Report, a series of cases from our first two years working with municipalities. Fair outcomes matter. Municipalities wishing to highlight the benefits of a collaborative approach to resolving complaints are welcome to download this report and post to their websites.