History, role and mandate

History

IN 2002, MONTRÉAL INNOVATED by creating a municipal ombudsman service. At the time, there was no equivalent position in any Canadian city. The Montréal City Council created the Ombudsman de Montréal position following the 2002 Sommet de Montréal Workshop on Democracy during which citizens requested access to such a neutral and independent resource. Ms. Savard, who is the first incumbent of the position, began her functions in 2003: she was unanimously appointed by City Council, where sit elected representatives from all political parties and all Montréal boroughs.

Role and mandate

The quality of municipal services and the fairness of municipal decisions are at the very heart of the Ombudsman de Montréal’s mandate. Citizens are entitled to fair, equitable and respectful treatment by Ville de Montréal employees and representatives. As such, the Ombudsman handles complaints of citizens who believe they were treated unjustly by the Montréal administration; the Ombudsman can also intervene at her own initiative.

The Ombudsman investigates when she has reasonable grounds to believe that the municipal rights of a person or a group of persons have been adversely affected, or are likely to be, due to an act, a decision, a recommenda¬tion or an omission of Ville de Montréal (central departments and boroughs), a para-municipal agency or a City-controlled corporation.

The Ombudsman de Montréal only acts as a last resort. Citizens who request her intervention must have submitted beforehand the alleged problem to the concerned department or borough Director. Moreover, the person or persons who submit a complaint must be personally affected by the situation in question.

The Ombudsman de Montréal must abide by the law. However, she is not bound by the City’s “past or customary practices”. Her interventions often create golden opportunities to update or modernize some municipal practices or procedures which have been in effect for many years.

The Ombudsman de Montréal has jurisdiction over the majority of administrative decisions of Ville de Montréal and its representatives. In most instances, however, she cannot investigate complaints related to the decisions or behaviour of elected officials.

The Ombudsman also offers the only available recourse to ensure the respect of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. When a complaint is based mainly on this Charter, and only in such an instance, the Ombudsman de Montréal can exceptionally intervene with regard to decisions voted on by the City Council, the Executive Committee or a Borough Council.

The Ombudsman de Montréal does not have jurisdiction over any employment or labour matters nor over any of the Société de transport de Montréal’s activities and decisions. Her jurisdiction over the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal is also limited and she cannot intervene in regards to the acts or behaviour of peace officers.

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