Torontonians can now bypass their ward councillors if they want to file a complaint
The City of Toronto has now set aside $1.2 million dollars to hire Ombudsman Fiona Crean and a team of seven staff to begin helping the public resolve complaints coming from City Hall. The Ombudsman is meant to provide the public with a direct avenue to complain about the level or type of service they received from the Hall.
The position of Ombudsman is not new for Canadian cities as Montreal has had one for a while now. According to the Toronto Star, the Montreal Ombudsman's office handles about 1300 complaints annually.
Here is what Crean told the Star newspaper last week:
I'm not in the business of making decisions, I'm in the business of helping city council hold the civil service accountable. My role is to make recommendations.
A number of Toronto City Councillors are not thrilled that Mayor Miller is spending over one million dollars on this new office when times are tough. They argue that citizen complaints should continue to be directed to the appropriate ward councillor, which would negate the need for a costly Ombudsman's office.
Crean goes on to reveal how she views her new role:
My experience in doing this work elsewhere is it's far better to get a systemic fix on a problem, for the public interest, than it is to continuously go back and deal with the same individual complaint," she said.
"A really simple way to approach it is to go in and fix the problem, at a second level to investigate, and at a third level to do preventative work.
It is reported that Crean previously served as Ombudsman for York University and executive director of the Ontario ombudsman's office.