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 that the Ombudsman Act would be amended to include municipalities within its jurisdiction. In response, the Ombudsman has undertaken a broad initiative to prepare for the expanded jurisdiction, a change we now know to be effective as of April 1, 2018.
Early in 2017, leaders within this office formed a committee to address how the impact of this new legislation would affect the current business model. Perhaps the most significant action taken was in initiating an environmental scan of other Ombudsman offices across Canada, already responsible for municipal oversight. Much was learned through this collaborative process and it was determined that the Alberta Ombudsman can anticipate at least a 30% rise in complaints.
On October 26, 2017 the final amendments to the Municipal Government Act were proclaimed, calling into force significant changes to the operations and practices of municipalities. Until the legislative changes take effect, the Alberta Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over municipalities or municipal complaints.
Work is well underway to streamline operations, enhance an understanding of our role with municipalities and ensure staff are informed and prepared. The Ombudsman has undertaken a reorganization of investigative teams, added five new investigator positions, adopted Early Resolution procedures and called for strategic changes in outreach and communication.
“Because the Alberta Ombudsman is an impartial and neutral independent office of the Legislative Assembly, we are uniquely positioned to accept complaints related to municipalities. As Canada’s oldest parliamentary office, with 50 years of experience, we look forward to approaching this work in a meaningful and collaborative manner….”
Marianne Ryan, Alberta Ombudsman
For those seeking more information about the expanded jurisdiction, we have developed Frequently Asked Questions that can be found here.