Waterloo Area Municipal Ombuds Office
The Region of Waterloo, together with the Townships of Woolwich, Wilmot and Wellesley, and the Cities of Waterloo and Cambridge have contracted with Agree Incorporated to provide ombuds services. The ombuds acts at arm's length from Regional council and the corporation. The ombuds office will independently receive, review and investigate complaints, provide periodic updates as a result of investigations and produce an annual report of its activities.
The Waterloo Area Municipal Ombuds Office is an office of last resort for members of the public to bring forward unresolved complaints when all other processes have been exhausted. You may be able to resolve your complaint directly with the Region of Waterloo. We can direct you to the appropriate local officials wherever possible and help you to follow our local/internal customer service feedback procedure. If you have not taken steps to resolve your issue with the Region directly or followed our customer service feedback procedure, the Waterloo Area Municipal Ombuds Office will refer you back to the Region.
Matters that fall within the ombuds' mandate to investigate are:
- Where you believe the Region has not followed appropriate procedures in arriving at a decision;
- Where you believe the Region has acted in a way that is contrary to its own rules, procedures or by-laws;
- Where you believe the Region has made a decision that is outside of its powers to make;
- Where you believe the Region has failed to take a specific action that it is required to take under its rules, procedures or by-laws;
- Where you believe a decision or recommendation made, act done or omitted to be done in the course of the administration of the Region, so long as it does not fall under the list of matters that are not within the ombuds' mandate to investigate (see below).
Matters that do not fall within the ombuds' mandate are:
- Any Region decision, recommendation, act or omission in respect of which there is a right of appeal, review or objection to any court or tribunal, until that right of appeal, review or objection has been exercised, or the time for the exercise of that right has expired;
- Cases where the inquirer has not taken their complaint to the Region first;
- Decisions, recommendations, acts or omissions of a legal advisor or counsel to the Region;
- Complaints regarding closed meetings of Region council;
- Complaints that are within the mandate of the integrity commissioner;
- Complaints where the subject matter is deemed to be trivial, frivolous, vexatious of an abuse of the ombuds office process or which are not made in good faith, in the opinion of the ombuds office;
- Cases where more than one year has passed since the inquirer learned the facts on which the complaint or inquiry is based, unless special circumstances exist.
Inquirers provide (within one year as above) a completed and signed inquirer's submission form with consent to disclose such evidence and information as is necessary to conduct a full, fair and impartial inquiry or investigation. Complaints and inquiries must originate from the affected party; the ombuds office does not accept complaints from interested, but unaffected third parties.
An initial review is conducted to decide whether a file may be investigated. During the review, the following questions are considered:
- Did the inquirer already go through the Region's internal complaint process? If not, the inquirer will be referred to the appropriate Regional office;
- Is the complaint or concern within the ombuds office's mandate?
Inquirers and the respondent, where appropriate, are advised of the outcome of the initial review.
An initial review may result in the inquirer and the Region being advised that the issue may be investigated. It may also result in an initial review letter advising the inquirer (and respondent if appropriate) that the file is being closed because the inquiry is not within the ombuds office mandate, together with a referral to the appropriate body to lodge a complaint, wherever possible.
For inquiries that proceed to investigation, the investigator will review all of the documentation that was provided by both the inquirer and the Region. If the investigator believes that the issue(s) may be able to be resolved consensually, the matter may be referred for early resolution through a conflict management professional. If a resolution is not possible, the matter will be referred back to the Investigator who will continue investigating the complaint and who may contact the inquirer and the Region to schedule interviews and gather information.
The report will contain the Investigator's findings, either recommending a remedy for the concern to the Region or rejecting the complaint. In either case, the report will contain reasons for the decision. Ombuds offices cannot order a municipality or an inquirer to take any steps but may make recommendations with persuasive reasons. Such recommendations are often followed.
For more information, visit the Waterloo Area Municipal Ombuds Office.
Agree Incorporated Ombuds Office can be reached as follows:
36 Dundas St.
Dundas, ON L9H 1A2
Toll Free: 1-888-224-2488