Ombudsman, Commissioner Reports On Investigation And Cases
Mary McFadyen, Saskatchewan’s Ombudsman and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner, tabled both of her 2014 annual reports today. McFadyen, who has completed her first year as Ombudsman and Commissioner, said her Office helps ensure that government treats people fairly and acts with integrity. “Many of the cases we worked on this past year illustrate the value of having an independent office make inquiries or investigate issues.”
As Ombudsman, McFadyen said that some complaints of unfairness were resolved at an early stage. Others, however, needed an investigation, and some of those resulted in recommendations to government. McFadyen said, “Our goal is that our recommendations will not only help the people who bring complaints to our Office, but will also help to ensure that others do not encounter the same problems. We are proud that our work often results in changes to government practices, policies and programs, to make them fairer for everyone in Saskatchewan.”
The report provides anonymous examples of cases, which include:
- What if I Don’t Want to Go There? (page 4) – “Hank” was a senior who had been living at home with his wife “Hillary.” When he was assessed and approved for long-term care, he and Hillary were hoping he could be placed in the facility nearest their home. They were concerned about the way the options were explained to them and what that could mean to his wait time for getting into a long-term care facility.
- Nobody Noticed (page 5) – “Hilda” had been on a SaskEnergy payment plan for 10 years, but nobody noticed that the pre-authorized payments had been coming out of another customer’s account for all those years. Now Hilda, a senior on a fixed income, suddenly had a large bill to pay.
- Bridging a Service Gap (page 7) – “Hugh” was an adult with intellectual disabilities and multiple diagnoses of mental illness. He lived with his parents until his mental health worsened and he was admitted to hospital. He languished there for 18 months, waiting for access to more supports and services, including a place to live. He qualified for help from the Ministry of Social Services and from the Mental Health and Addictions Branch of the Regina
Qu’Appelle Health Region, but with his combined needs, he did not fit neatly into the service plans for either. He – and others in his situation – needed them to work together.
As Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner, McFadyen reported that the Office completed its first investigation since the Ombudsman was appointed Commissioner in 2012. In 2014, her Office carried over two investigations from 2013. One was concluded in 2014 and the other was ongoing. Four disclosures were received in 2014, all of which were under assessment at the end of the year. Eight inquiries were received in 2014. There was also more work done in 2014 to increase public servants’ awareness of their options and protections under The Public Interest Disclosure Act.
The Ombudsman annual report is available at www.ombudsman.sk.ca (annual reports page) and the Public Interest Disclosure annual report is available at www.saskpidc.ca (reports page). The Ombudsman and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner is an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly who operates under The Ombudsman Act, 2012 and The Public Interest Disclosure Act. Her Office promotes and protects fairness and integrity in the design and delivery of government services.
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