Question 1 - What does the word “Ombudsman” mean?

Question 1 -

“Ombudsman” is a word of Swedish origin that emerged in 1806 and that meant spokesperson or representative. In Scandinavian countries, an ombudsman is the « magistrat chargé de défendre les droits du citoyen ». In Quebec, the ombudsman is a precursor to the protecteur du citoyen, in other words, a person whose duty is to defend the rights of citizens. For the Ville de Gatineau, the ombudsman is considered an independent mediator whose mandate is to address complaints from citizens made against the municipal administration.

Question 2 - To whom does the Ombudsman de Gatineau report?

Question 2 -

The Ombudsman de Gatineau reports directly to the Municipal Council, which ensures independence from the municipal administration.

Question 3 - Can a recommendation from the Ombudsman de Gatineau change a decision of the City?

Question 3 -

No. The ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to the city administration. The administration can choose to accept, modify or refuse a recommendation. The recommendations are non-binding.However, in some cases, the ombudsman may intervene if they are able to prove a mistake has been made or that there has been a breach. In such situations, the ombudsman acts as mediator and the administration can decide to reconsider its decision and take corrective action. The final decision is always made by the administration.

Question 4 - Can the Ombudsman de Gatineau modify a decision made by the Municipal Council?

Question 4 -

No,

The Ombudsman de Gatineau does not have the power to investigate a decision made by the Council or a Council committee, nor does it have the power to investigate the actions of an elected representative

Question 5 - The Ombudsman de Gatineau consists of what?

Question 5 -

The Ombudsman de Gatineau came about following a Municipal Council resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of the members. The resolution No. CM-2006-802 was replaced by the adoption of the resolution No. CM-2019-100, during a regular Municipal Council meeting held on February 19 2019. The Ombudsman de Gatineau’s office is currently composed of an ombudsman and an administrative assistant.

Question 6 - What is the term of office of the ombudsman?

Question 6 -

The term of office is of three years and the term may be renewed once. The ombudsman may resign at any time by providing a written notice to the Municipal Council. Lean more about the staff of the Ombudsman de Gatineau by visiting our « About us – Team » page!

The ombudsman is appointed by members of the Municipal Council every three years. Ms. Marilyne Caron has held the title of the ombudsman of Gatineau since August 28 2019. Ms. Caron’s mandate will end on August 26 2022.

Question 7 - What does the Ombudsman de Gatineau do?

Question 7 -

The Ombudsman de Gatineau is an administrative measure of last resort for citizens who feel they have been wronged by a decision made by the municipal administration or for citizens who are dissatisfied with a service provided by the municipal administration.

Since April 2020, the Gatineau Ombudsman’s Office is composed of an ombudsman and an administrative assistant. Lean more about the staff of the Ombudsman de Gatineau by visiting our « About us – Team » page!

Question 8 - How does the office of the Ombudsman de Gatineau process my service request or my complaint?

Question 8 -

Once a request is received, the Ombudsman de Gatineau sends acknowledgement of receipt and carries out a preliminary examination to determine if the request is admissible while taking into account the powers given to the Ombudsman de Gatineau under resolution No. CM-2019-100

Question 9 - What will the Ombudsman de Gatineau do if my complaint is not accepted?

Question 9 -

If the complaint is not accepted, the Ombudsman de Gatineau offers information and referral services and will assign a case number to you. The Ombudsman de Gatineau can carry out the following:

  • Inform you of the steps to follow to make sure you have exhausted all your administrative recourses;
  • Refer you to an external resource;
  • Refer you to the appropriate municipal service.

Question 10 - What will the Ombudsman de Gatineau do if my complaint is accepted?

Question 10 -

If your complaint is accepted, the ombudsman will gather the information required to examine your file and will carry out one of the following:

  • Intervene to address a problem;
  • Investigate to determine if your rights have been infringed upon or if you have been treated unfairly.

An administrative investigation report will be provided to you and the appropriate departments. Generally, the administrative investigation report’s conclusion states whether there has been a breach on behalf of the municipal administration, whether regulations have been respected and whether you have been treated fairly in respect to your file. Recommendations could be made to senior management in the context of continuously improving the quality of municipal services or to prevent such situation from happening again.

Question 11 - How do I know if the Ombudsman de Gatineau can address my complaint?

Question 11 -

The Ombudsman de Gatineau is a measure of last resort. You must have first exhausted all of the following administrative recourses:

  • File a first request with the 311 Non-urgent call centre to inform the Ville de Gatineau of the problem:
  • If your request has not been addressed within a reasonable timeframe, file a second request with the 311.
    • File a second request if your first request has been addressed but the problem remains, or if you are still dissatisfied.

As you wait for your requests to be processed, we recommend that you reach out to the direction of your local service centre to inform them of the situation and to get a follow-up.

  • Once you have followed these steps, if your problem persists, if you are dissatisfied with the action taken or if you feel you have been wronged, contact us and we will immediately examine your file.

 

Question 12 - I would like to file a complaint against the Service de Police de la Ville de Gatineau, can you help?

Question 12 -

No. The Ombudsman de Gatineau cannot intervene if your complaint is against a Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau (SPVG) officer or any other police force. To file a complaint against a police officer from a Quebec police force: https://comite.deontologie.gouv.qc.ca/en/the-comite.html

Notwithstanding the above, the Ombudsman de Gatineau has established an internal process with the Director of the SPVG whereby the latter is notified of inadmissible requests. The Ombudsman de Gatineau can act as a liaison and refer you to the person in charge of professional standards and internal affairs of the SPVG. Depending on your preference and with your consent, we can also forward your contact information to the officer in charge so that he or she can contact you.

 

Question 13 - I would like to challenge a statement of offence (ticket) that was issued by a police officer or a parking enforcement agent, can you help me?

Question 13 -

No. The Ombudsman de Gatineau cannot intervene if your file is a litigated matter.

Question 14 - I would like to file a complaint against the quality of health care services given by a local institution, can you help me?

Question 14 -

No. The Ombudsman de Gatineau cannot intervene, as this falls outside its scope

Question 15 - What is the time limit for filing a complaint with the Ombudsman de Gatineau?

Question 15 -

You have one year from the time you became aware of your issue to file a complaint with the Ombudsman de Gatineau. However, we recommend that you file the complaint as soon as possible.

Question 16 - What is the timeframe to be informed of the admissibility of my complaint?

Question 16 -

The Ombudsman de Gatineau will inform you of the admissibility of your complaint within 30 days or less.

Question 17 - Will my file remain confidential?

Question 17 -

Yes, as per section 31 of the resolution No. CM-2019-100, the ombudsman, his employees and any experts he retains must respect the confidential nature of any information brought to their attention in the performance of their duties. The ombudsman’s files are exempted from the Access to Information Act.

Question 18 - Are your services free?

Question 18 -

Yes, all our services are free of charge.