New Ombudsman model proposed
Aylmer Bulletin staff
A single integrated and decentralized Ombudsman office will in all likelihood replace Gatineau’s former model with commissioners. This is what the municipal working committee (Councillors Renée Amyot, Daniel Champagne and Mike Duggan), proposed to council in late January. All members, including the mayor, agreed with the proposal.
“The city started with an Ombudsman office with volunteers and since then the city has grown. I believe to professionalize this function will not only help residents, but improve our municipal system,” commented Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin, adding that he is willing to invest more funds to improve the municipal system. The current budget for the Ombudsman office is just under $300,000. The budget will be reviewed in one year’s time.
What was clear in the presentation to council was that the Ombudsman had to be impartial and neutral, unlike a Public Protector whose role would be to defend residents. Several councillors insist that there is some confusion regarding this nuance.
With this change, the Office would no longer have commissionaires, and the future Ombudsman would bring in external experts as required. The city hopes to adopt the new model within weeks and hire an Ombudsman before April.