Human Resources Legislative Update
Legislation Expanding Ombudsman Jurisdiction to Municipalities, Universities and School Boards Now In Force
Date: February 16, 2016
On January 1, 2016, provisions of Schedule 9 of the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 came into force. These provisions amend the Ombudsman Act (“Act“) to expand the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate matters related to publicly-funded universities and municipal sector entities (defined as municipalities, local boards and municipally-controlled corporations). On September 1, 2015, provisions of Schedule 9 which expand the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to investigate matters related to school boards also came into force.
Among other things, these amendments to the Act:
- expand the scope of the Ombudsman’s authority from investigating governmental organizations to investigating public sector bodies (defined as governmental organizations and other entities to which the Act applies, which includes municipal sector entities, school boards and universities)
- provide exceptions to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction relating to school boards and universities
- clarify the scope of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to investigate matters within the jurisdiction of a municipal Ombudsman
- establish rules relating to documentation provided by the Ombudsman to a public sector body or person in cases where the Ombudsman may make a report that adversely affects that party and is providing the documentation to afford the party an opportunity to make representations on the report
- provide that meetings held by the governing body or senate of a university or the executive committee of the governing body or senate or a prescribed governmental organization, which are considering matters relating to an investigation under the Act, are closed to the public
- allow the Ombudsman to make reports involving public sector bodies (other than governmental organizations) available to the public.
Schedule 9 of the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 also amends section 207 of the Education Act to provide that a meeting of a board or committee of a board shall be closed to the public where the matters discussed relate to an ongoing investigation under theAct. Corresponding amendments for municipal meetings are made to the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and the Municipal Act, 2001.