Ombudsman handling hundreds of complaints during coronavirus state of emergency

TORONTO, April 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ontario Ombudsman Paul DubA© today stressed that his office continues to help Ontarians during the present state of emergency, and has responded to hundreds of public complaints related to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Although the Ombudsmana??s office doors have been closed since March 16, Mr. DubA© and more than 100 staff are working from home, Mr. DubA© says in a new message on his officea??s website:  a??We continue to receive complaints in all areas of our jurisdiction through our website and by email. While working from home over the past few weeks, we have received some 800 new cases, including almost 300 related to the COVID-19 pandemic alone,a?? he says.a??Complaints are being received and responded to according to our normal processes, with the most urgent ones triaged for quick response. Although response times in some cases may be slower because the officials with whom we regularly interact are also working remotely, we are achieving critical results.a??In recent weeks, the Ombudsmana??s office has, among other things:

Arranged new temporary phone lines to allow inmates in the provincea??s correctional facilities to contact Ombudsman staff, as of next week;

Handled close to 100 calls from young people in care and in youth justice facilities;

Helped numerous Ontarians find or navigate information about local and provincial services affected by coronavirus and the state of emergency;

Made inquiries about the new emergency rules for open municipal meetings;

Urged the province, through French Language Services Commissioner Kelly Burke, to ensure its public health information, including that shared by Cabinet, is available in French as well as English.

Mr. DubA© notes that a key part of his officea??s role has always been to work collaboratively with public sector bodies to alert them to administrative problems and propose constructive solutions. The present situation has prompted the Ombudsman and senior management to a??hold regular teleconferences with senior officials in several ministries to bring issues to their attention, learn about their pandemic planning measures, and share information about complaint trends,a?? he writes.
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