Annual report summary Ontario Ombudsman 2020-21

Published: December 10, 2021

The following summary contains information pertaining to Legal Aid Ontario in the annual report from the Ontario Ombudsman. The original report was released on June 23, 2021.

Background

The Ontario Ombudsman was established in 1975.  They are an Officer of the Legislature, independent of the government and political parties and assist Ontarians in resolving complaints and identifying systemic issues within provincial government services and administration.

The Ontario Ombudsman oversees more than 1,000 public sector bodies, comprising more than 500 Ontario government ministries, programs, agencies, boards, commissions, corporations and tribunals, as well as 444 municipalities, 72 school boards, 10 school authorities, 22 universities and 50 children’s aid societies.

In May 2019, the mandate of the office was expanded to include two former offices of the Legislature, the French Language Services Commissioner and the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.

The Complaints department, acting as the liaison between LAO and the Office of the Ombudsman, receives inquiries from the Ombudsman’s Early Resolution Officers on behalf of members of the public. Many of the inquiries received by the Ombudsman’s Office are questions that can be answered by frontline Ombudsman staff and do not require any assistance from LAO.

Details

For the 2020-21 fiscal year, it should be noted that inquiries pertaining to LAO accounted for only 0.4% of all cases received by the Ombudsman (76 out of 20,015 cases). The chart below compares the numbers recorded by the Ontario Ombudsman as compared to the number of contacts recorded by LAO. We find it encouraging that many of the inquiries can be resolved by the Ontario Ombudsman using their knowledge about LAO. Over the years, we have established a good working relationship with this office and they have developed a comprehensive database of LAO’s policies and procedures.

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Complaints against LAO and clinics constituted 6% of all complaints against agencies reporting to the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) even though LAO represents a significant amount of the agency funding allocated to MAG.  There were 1,329 complaints pertaining to MAG and it’s agencies with 66 of those inquiries pertaining to LAO and 10 pertaining to Legal Aid clinics (this was the first Ombudsman annual report with a division between LAO and clinics).

The following chart depicts LAO numbers against the cases closed by the Ombudsman’s Office for the past few fiscal years.

 

Fiscal Year Closed Cases within
Ombudsman jurisdiction
Closed Cases outside
Ombudsman jurisdiction
Ombudsman Files
pertaining to LAO
2020-21 13,165 5,984 76
2019-20 18,116 7,284 138
2018-19 18,447 7,999 125

LAO was not among the top-10 provincial government organizations and programs complained about to the Ontario Ombudsman during 2020-21.
There were no case studies in the annual report pertaining to LAO.

Conclusion

 We will continue to enhance our relationship with the Ontario Ombudsman and use inquiries to identify possible gaps in our policies and procedures.