The Alberta Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner Supports National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Alberta Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner’s offices will be taking time this September 30, 2021, to reflect on the tragic history of residential schools and all those affected.   Marianne Ryan, the Alberta Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner will be closing her offices on September 30th in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Her staff will be encouraged to commemorate the day and reflect on how the offices may continually…

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Future Emergency Benefit Programs Must Be Fair

On March 17, 2020, the Government of Alberta declared a state of public health emergency across the province as concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic grew.  In the weeks that followed, the government responded further by implementing public health measures that drastically affected peoples’ lives at home, school and in the workplace. People across…

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Giving Voice to Mental Health Patients

Alberta Ombudsman, Marianne Ryan introduces best practice paper “Giving Voice to Mental Health Patients” at the virtual International Ombudsman Institute’s 12th General Assembly and World Conference this week.    The paper, inspired by Mary Marshall of Meadows Law and former solicitor to the Alberta Ombudsman, and written by Alberta Ombudsman staffer Daniel Johns, was co-presented by the trio in…

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Alberta Ombudsman aligns with provincial counterparts calling for cautious approach to vaccine certification schemes

As countries around the world, and some jurisdictions in Canada contemplate how or if certification of COVID-19 vaccination status will be implemented in daily life, Canadian Ombudsman are stressing a cautious approach that places fairness at the heart of any potential vaccination certification system that is applied to public services. The Canadian Council of Parliamentary…

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The Future of Ombudship in Canada

This article by Alberta Ombudsman staffer        Daniel Johns (pictured right) and former Correctional Investigator of Canada Howard Sapers (pictured left) was first published by Policy Magazine, based out of Ottawa. Mr. Johns started as an investigator more than 30 years ago while Mr. Sapers is a former Alberta Member of the Legislative…

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Early resolution accelerates fair results

Everyone benefits when the Ombudsman helps parties on both sides find quick, simple solutions. If the Ombudsman’s office can facilitate a fair solution to address a complaint, we can reduce frustration for all. Early resolution is a preliminary investigative step where the Ombudsman investigator takes action to resolve the issue informally and as efficiently as…

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Alberta Ombudsman annual report describes fairness work through 2019-20

Albertans submitted over 5,100 complaints about unfair treatment, states the Alberta Ombudsman’s 53rd annual report. “The fundamental purpose of the Ombudsman is to be of service to the people. In providing oversight, too often we see avoidable instances of unfairness stemming from a disagreement with a decision, poor service delivery or inadequate communication,” Marianne Ryan…

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Celebrating Ombuds Day across Canada and beyond

EDMONTON – On Thursday, October 8, 2020, provincial and territorial offices of the Ombudsman from across Canada will celebrate Ombuds Day, a day to recognize a profession that has existed for centuries yet remains relatively unknown and underutilized: the Ombuds. “The role of the Ombudsman is in ensuring citizens with a right to access a…

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Waiting for fairness

Timeliness is a factor in fairness. Cases from two different authorities illustrate the point that reaching the correct decision is of primary importance, but administrative delay can cause secondary issues of unfairness.     Alberta Human Rights Commission The Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC or the commission) is working to eliminate the backlog of complaints…

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An amazing 47-year career with the Ombudsman

While retirement is a milestone most of us will achieve, not many of us will reach 47 years at the same office. “When I started in 1973, the Ombudsman’s office was relatively new and the relationship between the office and many government departments was less than congenial. But, as departments became more familiar with the…

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In memoriam

  The Alberta Ombudsman was saddened to hear about the passing of Brian Carver, a long-term employee of the office. Brian died on May 23, 2020 in Sherwood Park at age 82. Brian spent 17 years with the Alberta Ombudsman, starting as an investigator and eventually being appointed director of the north office. His dedication…

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Five reasons for welcoming an Ombudsman investigation

Should municipal administrators invite their citizens to complain to the Ombudsman? An Ombudsman investigation should be seen as an opportunity by a municipality. The goal is not to lay blame, but to fix problems and help the municipality avoid future complaints by improving its processes. Here are five reasons for supporting the Ombudsman investigation: Mistakes…

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Building Relationships with Albertans – Municipality Report

EDMONTON – The Alberta Ombudsman releases a series of case examples highlighting the benefits of a collaborative approach to resolving complaints about municipalities. In April 2018, the role of the Alberta Ombudsman expanded to include municipalities. In Canada, municipalities serve as local government and are responsible for providing services, facilities, safety and infrastructure for their communities.…

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Serving Albertans remotely – a COVID-19 update

In light of the ongoing situation with COVID-19, we have adapted our business practices to serve Albertans remotely. We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure we are able to meet the requirements of our legislation, while we align with the latest announcements made to protect public health. Every Albertan has the right to…

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Notice of temporary closure

Until further notice and effective immediately, we have made the decision to close offices in both Edmonton and Calgary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The health and well-being of our staff and visitors to our office remains of primary importance to us. We are closely monitoring this rapidly evolving situation to ensure our…

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Treating People with Mental Illness Fairly

EDMONTON – the Alberta Ombudsman releases a report on Mental Health Review Panels. In 2013 and 2014, the previous Alberta Ombudsman found broad areas of unfairness with Mental Health Review Panels (review panels) processes and made several recommendations to improve the situation. We launched this investigation because the 2014 recommendations had not been fully implemented.…

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The Benefits of an Impartial Third Party

This is the last article in a series AUMA and the Alberta Ombudsman produced to provide information on the relationship between the Ombudsman and Municipalities.  To read the full series visit our News page or AUMA’s MGA Change Management page. Our office works to promote fair decisions and fair decision-making processes in the administration of…

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Ombudsman Investigations

This is the third in a series of articles AUMA and the Alberta Ombudsman are producing to provide information on the relationship between the Ombudsman and Municipalities. To read the full series, follow us here or visit AUMA’s MGA Change Management page. The Alberta Ombudsman is contacted by citizens who feel something is not fair…

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What if the Ombudsman calls?

This is the second in a series of articles AUMA and the Alberta Ombudsman are producing to provide information on the relationship between the Ombudsman and Municipalities. To read the full series, follow us here or visit AUMA’s MGA Change Management page.   In 2017-18, the Alberta Ombudsman received over 4,600 inquiries and written complaints…

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What do Municipalities Need to Know About the Alberta Ombudsman?

As of April 1, 2018, the Alberta Ombudsman’s jurisdiction expanded to include municipalities. The office may now act on complaints about municipalities and, if warranted, initiate investigations into municipal decisions and decision-making processes. The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and the Ombudsman’s office are collaborating on a series of articles to provide municipalities information on…

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Meet the Deputy Ombudsman

Peter Sherstan was sworn in as the Deputy Ombudsman and Deputy Public Interest Commissioner in August 2018.  In this dual role, he oversees four investigative teams and supports the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner, Marianne Ryan, as she works toward, “. . . improving the lives of Albertans and making sure everyone gets a fair…

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Expanded Jurisdiction Over Municipalities Takes Effect

EDMONTON – Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s ninth Ombudsman, welcomes legislative changes that expand her office’s jurisdiction to include municipalities. Final amendments to the Municipal Government Act, proclaimed October 26, 2017, set forth important changes to the Ombudsman Act, the legislation that calls into force the office of the Ombudsman and sets out the powers, duties and…

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Preparations for Municipalities Continue

For over 50 years, the Alberta Ombudsman has provided oversight of provincial government services, self-regulated professions and other designated authorities, in cases where a complaint of unfair treatment has been made about an administrative process or decision. Late in 2016, with the passage of Bill 21 – the Modernized Municipal Government Act, it was confirmed…

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Recent Proclamation Confirms – As of April 1, 2018 the Mandate of the Alberta Ombudsman Will Expand to Include Municipalities

On Thursday October 26, 2017 the final amendments to the Municipal Government Act (MGA), the act that governs how municipalities operate, were proclaimed into law. Efforts to modernize the act led to significant updates including changes to the Ombudsman Act, via Bill 21 – the Modernized Municipal Government Act. In a recent news release, Municipal…

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Promoting Fair Practices for 50 Years

When the Alberta Ombudsman began operations 50 years ago this week, the province and its government operated much differently than it does today. Out of necessity, the Alberta Ombudsman’s approach to complaint handling has required adjustment.  When first conceived, the Ombudsman was primarily seen as an agent who would help citizens negotiate their way through…

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Evolving Jurisdiction Over Time

1967 The Ombudsman’s jurisdictional reach granted by proclamation of the Ombudsman Act included Alberta government departments, boards and agencies. There was an immediate question of jurisdiction over the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) as legal opinions held that the WCB was not a provincial agency within the meaning of the Ombudsman Act. 1968 An amendment was passed on April…

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Making an Impact – Prompting Positive Systemic Change

Over the years the mandate of the office has expanded. At present it investigates complaints about the decisions and actions of provincial government departments, boards, agencies and commissions, designated professional organizations and the Patient Concerns Resolution Process of Alberta Health Services. It also investigates complaints about municipalities; the Alberta Legislature has passed the new Municipal…

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Marianne Ryan recommended as Alberta’s ninth Ombudsman

A search committee of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta has recommended the appointment of Marianne Ryan as Alberta’s ninth Ombudsman and second Public Interest Commissioner. Through a long and distinguished 35-year career in policing, Ryan most recently served as the Commanding Officer for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta, and was one of the…

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Ombudsman investigators to visit Red Deer, Wetaskiwin

EDMONTON – Investigators with the Alberta Ombudsman will visit Red Deer and Wetaskiwin in early April. “We believe it’s important Albertans understand how our office works, and the rights and obligations they and government service providers have when it comes to fair treatment,” said Peter Hourihan, the Alberta Ombudsman. “This type of community outreach gives…

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Municipality Primer: Questions and Answers

Following the passage of Bill 21 in late 2016, it is expected the Alberta Ombudsman will receive expanded jurisdiction over municipalities. Below are Questions and Answers that explain the role of our office and what you might expect. What types of complaints will the Ombudsman review? The Ombudsman will investigate complaints from people who feel they have…

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Statement from the Alberta Ombudsman on passage of Bill 21

An impartial and neutral independent office of the Legislative Assembly, the Alberta Ombudsman is uniquely positioned to investigate complaints related to municipalities. As Canada’s oldest parliamentary ombudsman office with nearly 50 years of experience, our office looks forward to working in a meaningful and collaborative manner with both complainants and municipalities in the future. We have…

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Ombudsman investigators to visit Brooks and Medicine Hat

EDMONTON – Investigators with the Alberta Ombudsman will visit Brooks and Medicine Hat in early October. “It’s important for Albertans to understand how our office works, and the rights and obligations they and government service providers have when it comes to fair treatment,” said Hourihan. “These community visits provide Albertans with direct access to our…

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Outreach tour – Ombudsman investigators visit Camrose and Drumheller

EDMONTON – Alberta Ombudsman investigators will visit Camrose on April 5th and Drumheller on April 6th. “Ensuring Albertans have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with an investigator, when they would normally not have access given their location, is an important part of our outreach initiative,” says Peter Hourihan, Alberta’s Ombudsman. “We encourage community residents to…

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Rocky Mountain House and Drayton Valley Outreach Tour

EDMONTON – Alberta Ombudsman investigators will visit Rocky Mountain House on October 28th and Drayton Valley on October 29th. Residents of Rocky Mountain House, Drayton Valley and surrounding communities are invited to attend presentations by an investigator about the role of our office. They can also book an appointment with an investigator to discuss how they…

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Student Aid Alberta to improve transparency of loan reviews

An Alberta Ombudsman review of the Student Aid Alberta program has led to changes by the province to improve information and transparency regarding the student loan review process. The Ombudsman’s review was triggered by a student inquiry in 2014 about the review process. The Ombudsman found there was insufficient information on Alberta Innovation and Advanced…

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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…

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Alberta’s voice of fairness to visit Canmore, High River

EDMONTON – Peter Hourihan, Alberta’s Ombudsman, and a team of investigators will visit Canmore and High River later this month. “We want to ensure Albertans are able to learn more about how our office works, and have direct, face-to-face access with our investigators,” said Hourihan. “Reaching out directly to Albertans in communities outside Edmonton and…

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Seniors share concerns with Ombudsman

The Alberta Ombudsman met with more than 60 members of the Elders Advocates of Alberta Society on January 27 in Edmonton. “We heard a lot of comments and questions about seniors care, and it echoes what we hear on a regular basis when we meet with complainants or deliver presentations across Alberta,” said Peter Hourihan,…

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From 10 seconds to 10 years

By Peter Hourihan Alberta Ombudsman (Some details about the complainant have been changed to protect his privacy.) How does a 10 second encounter turn into 10 years of frustration? In the case of one Albertan who complained to our office, a thoughtless comment led to a breakdown in trust of the health care system –…

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Promoting fairness in northeast Alberta

Alberta’s Ombudsman and a team of investigators will visit St. Paul and Bonnyville in mid-November. The visit provides area residents an opportunity to meet with investigators if feel they have been treated unfairly by an Alberta government department, agency, board, commission, a designated professional body, or Alberta Health Services’ patient concerns office. “We’ve been fanning…

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Ombudsman Q and A

Alberta’s Ombudsman, Peter Hourihan, spoke recently with members of the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs in Lethbridge about the role of both the offices of the Ombudsman and the Public Interest Commissioner. Click the links below to hear Peter’s September 18 speech, as well as a question and answer session. Speech: http://sacpa.ca/userfile/session/649_0.mp3 Q &…

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Investigators to visit Pincher Creek and Lethbridge

The Alberta Ombudsman and a team of investigators will visit Pincher Creek and Lethbridge later this month. “Visiting communities, and going directly to Albertans who may need our help, is really one of the most effective ways of getting the word out about our services,” said Peter Hourihan, Alberta’s Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner. Residents…

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Investigators to visit Olds and Hinton

Ombudsman investigators will be available to meet with with Albertans who feel they have been treated unfairly by an Alberta government department or authority. Investigators will be Olds on August 20 at the Olds Recreation Centre between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our investigators will also be in Hinton on August 22 at the Hinton…

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Investigation update

Joe Loran, Deputy Ombudsman, and Diann Bowes, an investigations manager who heads up the Ombudsman’s Own Motion Team, discuss an ongoing investigation. Last year, the Alberta Ombudsman created a special investigations team. Its mission was to conduct own motion investigations, which can be triggered at any time, on any matter of public interest under our…

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Getting the word out across Alberta

This spring, Ombudsman investigators fanned out across Alberta, visiting the northern and southern parts of the province. On May 14, a team of investigators visited Slake Lake, meeting 11 residents at the Rotary Club of Slave Lake Public Library. The following month, on June 12, investigators were in Brooks, meeting with 22 residents at the Brooks Public Library.…

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Meet a voice of fairness in Slave Lake

Alberta Ombudsman investigators will visit Slake Lake on May 14 to meet residents who have complaints or concerns with how they were treated by an Alberta government department, agency, board, commission, designated professional organization, or Alberta Health Service’s patient concerns office. Residents can call us toll-free at 1-888-455-2756 to book an appointment with an investigator…

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Security notice – The Heartbleed bug

On Wednesday, April 9, the Alberta Ombudsman was made aware this website, and the website for the Public Interest Commissioner (www.yourvoiceprotected.ca) were some of the thousands of sites around the world vulnerable to the so-called Heartbleed loophole, or bug. News stories indicate websites using OpenSSL for site security (including Yahoo, the FBI, the Canada Revenue…

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Raising awareness of fairness in central Alberta

Peter Hourihan, Alberta’s Ombudsman, and a team of investigators visited Red Deer and Lacombe, March 11 and 12. “It was great to meet and inform Albertans about what exactly our office does, what we can investigate and the different ways we help people find the answers they’re looking for,” said Hourihan. Residents of Red Deer,…

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Ombudsman, on the air

Peter Hourihan dropped by Edmonton’s 630 CHED studios recently to chat about his dual roles as Alberta’s Ombudsman and the province’s first Public Interest Commissioner. The stop was part of Peter’s efforts to raise awareness of the services offered by both independent offices of the Alberta legislature. He chatted with 630 CHED hosts Andrew Grose and…

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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…

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Ombudsman releases annual report

The Alberta Ombudsman’s 2012/2013 annual report is available for download, here. It provides a detailed look at the work we’ve done over the past year, as well as the path we’re charting for years to come, and our plan to get there. This year’s edition features a focus on our oversight role with Alberta’s designated…

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Promoting fairness in the south

Alberta’s Ombudsman, Peter Hourihan, visited Medicine Hat on Tuesday, May 29, and Lethbridge on Wednesday, May 30. Residents attended a presentation by Mr. Hourihan, and had the opportunity to meet with Ombudsman investigators for information about how the office works, and to discuss complaints of unfair treatment by the Alberta government. “This was a very…

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Ombudsman begins duties as Public Interest Commissioner

Peter Hourihan, Alberta’s Ombudsman, has officially begun his duties as the province’s first Public Interest Commissioner. The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act came into effect June 1, 2013, and in the weeks following Mr. Hourihan’s appointment as Commissioner, he was been working to set up the Public Interest Commissioner’s office, hiring staff and developing an interactive…

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International Ombudsman Institute (IOI)

The Ombudsman attended the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) meeting in Vienna, Austria in April 2013. A number of Board business items were addressed. Most significantly, the IOI approved 7,500 euros to the City of Toronto Ombudsman, which is developing a protocol for Accountability of Ombudsman offices. This is a needed and overdue study, and will…

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Ombudsman hosts the CCPO in Edmonton

Alberta’s Ombudsman hosted all Canadian Council of Parliamentary Ombudsman (CCPO) members across Canada in May. In addition to holding the annual meeting, a tour was taken of the new Remand Centre in Edmonton. This was an excellent opportunity to view the centre. A short meeting was also held with the Lieutenant Government, along with a tour of…

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Message from the Ombudsman

Welcome to the third issue of our electronic newsletter. As always, our goal is to inform you about the work our office does as we investigate complaints of unfair treatment – and how it may impact you as a front line worker or decision-maker in government. In this issue, you’ll find a preview of our…

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