Frequently Asked Questions
- Do all complaints get investigated?
- Not necessarily. Each complaint is unique and we try to choose the most appropriate way to deal with it. Sometimes that means an investigation. Other times, we may use mediation or negotiation. Whenever possible, we contact the government office to see if an early resolution can be achieved.
- What is an Ombudsman?
- The term Ombudsman comes from the Swedish language, meaning “protector of the people”. There is no clearer or simpler way to express the core goal of this office. Our mission is to provide an independent means by which public complaints concerning the Yukon government can be heard and investigated. Our job is to promote fairness, and help improve government services.
- What does the Yukon Ombudsman do?
- The Ombudsman is an impartial investigator who takes complaints regarding Yukon government services. The Ombudsman can independently and impartially look at a matter to see whether or not you have been treated fairly. If the Ombudsman finds that you have been treated unfairly, she can make recommendations to address the unfairness. Independent review of individual complaints can work to improve government administration. We also work to educate the public and government about fairness in administration and the role of our office.
- Why do we need an Ombudsman?
- Every day, the Yukon government makes decisions and provides services that affect people’s lives. These decisions and services may relate to vehicle registration, student loans, health services, a grant application or numerous other things. Although many government workers strive to do the best job they can, sometimes problems can develop. If a citizen feels that the Yukon government has been unfair in making a decision or delivering a service and is unable to resolve the matter, it is essential that they have an independent authority to bring their concern to. Identifying and resolving problems benefits the person who brings the complaint forward, others in the same situation, the government and all citizens of the Yukon.
- Do all complaints get investigated?
Not necessarily. Each complaint is unique and we try to choose the most appropriate way to deal with it. Sometimes that means an investigation. Other times, we may use mediation or negotiation. Whenever possible, we contact the government office to see if an early resolution can be achieved.
- Who can make a complaint?
Any person or group that feels they have been treated unfairly by a Yukon government action or decision can contact the Ombudsman. We will determine if the complaint is an issue the Ombudsman can investigate. If it is not, we will try to refer you to someone who can help.
- What kinds of problems can the Ombudsman help me with?
The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about:
- Yukon government departments,
- crown corporations and independent authorities or boards,
- public schools,
- Yukon College,
- professional and occupational governing bodies, and
- municipalities and Yukon First Nations (at their request only).
- What kinds of probelms can the Ombudsman NOT help me with?
There are a number of problems that are outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. The Ombudsman cannot investigate:
- disputes between individuals;
- complaints about the federal government, the RCMP, the courts, the Yukon Legislature, the Yukon Elections Office, or lawyers acting on behalf of government;
- landlord/tenant matters;
- home or auto insurance;
- businesses; and
- matters which took place before the Ombudsman Act became law (1996)
- What should I do if I want to get help from the Ombudsman?
The Ombudsman is generally a place of last resort. This means that you should first try to resolve your problem by using any internal complaint and appeal procedures available within the government body you are dealing with. Many complaints can be resolved quickly in this way. If you are not certain what complaint procedures are available, you can speak to the government body directly or ask the Ombudsman to help you find information on how to address your problem.
- make notes of your interactions with the government body,
- get the names and titles of the people you have dealt with,
- keep track of the dates of your contacts with the government body, and
- keep all papers and letters or emails relating to your complaint.
- Is there a fee?
No. The services of the Ombudsman are free of charge.
- How does the Ombudsman's office get information from government offices?
The Ombudsman Act gives us the authority to see all government files and interview anyone in relation to a complaint.
- Are the services of the Office of the Ombudsman confidential?
Complaints filed with the Ombudsman are confidential. The details of the complaint will be discussed only with the complainant and the government body involved. The Ombudsman will not discuss a complaint with the government unless permission from the complainant has been given.
- How long does it take to complete work on a complaint?
A complaint will be dealt with as quickly as possible. The length of time needed to deal with a matter depends on its complexity. Some complaints can be dealt with satisfactorily within a few days. Others take weeks or months. When a full investigation takes place, the matter often takes several months to resolve.
- Will I know the results of an investigation?
The Ombudsman or an investigator will review findings with the complainant. The Ombudsman writes to each complainant advising them of the investigation and the results.
- If the Ombudsman determines there has been unfairness, what power does the Ombudsman have?
The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to the Yukon government body involved. In almost all cases, the recommendations are accepted and implemented by the government. In some cases, the complaint is resolved during the investigation and no recommendations are made.
The Ombudsman can decide to report the findings to the Legislative Assembly or comment publically on an investigation.
- What good is the Ombudsman if she can only recommend and cannot make government change a decision?
In almost all cases, government chooses to follow the Ombudsman’s recommendations. In fact, very often, just having the Ombudsman involved can cause government to think twice. A government ministry or agency will often make a change voluntarily when the Ombudsman begins looking into a matter.
If the Ombudsman makes a recommendation and the government does not follow it, the Ombudsman can make a report to the Cabinet and then the Legislative Assembly. She may also decide to comment publicly.
- How does the Yukon Ombudsman get selected?
The Legislative Assembly is made up of members of the government and the opposition. The Ombudsman is chosen jointly by both sides to ensure the process is fair and unbiased. A committee of the Legislative Assembly reviews the applications, conducts interviews, and recommends the next Ombudsman to the Legislative Assembly.
- Who does the Ombudsman report to?
The Ombudsman is an Officer of the Legislative Assembly but is independent of government and political parties. The Ombudsman provides annual reports to the Legislative Assembly through the Speaker of the House. The Ombudsman does not take instructions from any government or organization. The Ombudsman acts on behalf of the people of the Yukon.
- How can I get more information about the Ombudsman?
The Office of the Ombudsman offers a variety of educational tools, such as public education sessions, news releases, brochures, annual reports and this website. In addition to our own initiatives, we work to make ourselves available to the public at their request. We encourage Yukoners to contact us if they are interested in learning more about what we do.
- How can I reach the Ombudsman?
Our office is located in Suite 201 at 211 Hawkins Street in Whitehorse. You can drop into our office, or reach us by phone, fax, email or mail.
Outside of Whitehorse, call collect or toll-free at 1-800-661-0408 ext. 8468.