Tomorrow, Ontario NDP MPP Rosario Marchese will introduce a Private Members Bill in the Ontario Legislature that, if passed, would give the Ontario Ombudsman the oversight power to investigate complaints that deal with school boards, hospitals, long term care facilities, retirement homes and children’s aid societies — all areas that are apparently NOT now covered by that office. Clearly, given the fact that there were some 4,000 complaints last year that the Ombudsman was not able to investigate, this addition to the Ombudsman’s powers is long overdue.
As such, it is my hope that the Ontario PC caucus, under the leadership of Tim Hudak, look at this bill from a bi-partisan point of view and support it 100%. While I don’t have links, I do recall that there have been attempts to extend such powers to investigate in the past during both the Bob Rae and Mike Harris governments. Yet, they went no where. Why not? Well, in my opinion, they went nowhere because of pressures from the very groups that would be investigated.
For a really good link, check out Hugo’s blog at The Education Reporter. He has a link to an article written by Jen O’Brien of the London Free Press. Once you get to Hugo’s link in his first sentence, click on the magnifying glass at the bottom of the page and then simply move your cursor onto the article itself and you will be able to read the article, as well as some examples of the types of complaints that have gone unheaded, especially about bullying.
The Ontario public, be they parents, patients or caregivers, need to be able to ask someone to investigate issues and events that previously have been ignored or disputed, which is why we should all be in favour of the Marchese PMB. Why? Because if passed into law, it would allow the Ontario Ombudsman oversight powers into all areas of public services.
Update November 16th: MPP Rosario Marchese tabled his Private Members Bill yesterday. Here are some recent links: Global Toronto, CBC, Brandon Sun and CP 24. No Ontario government, no matter which political party, has ever supported a PMB to increase the Ontario Ombudsman’s power of oversight. Why I don’t know. It should be about accountability and as a last resort for many parents and caregivers. It is my hope, therefore, that the Ontario PC’s support this bill. If it is not needed, there will be no complaints. If it is needed, we will see what those complaints are all about and how the next government, which I hope will be a PC government, can bring in new legislation or policies to correct them.