Ombudsman Ontario

Ombudsman Ontario

November 01, 2006 15:30 ET

Strong, Empowered Ombudsman Needed for Veterans: Andre Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 1, 2006) -

ATTN: NEWS EDITOR

Andre Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario, called on the government to create an ombudsman for veterans with strong powers in order to protect Canada's veterans from injustice. Mr. Marin was invited to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Veteran's Affairs to testify on what is required to establish an effective Veterans Ombudsman. He also warned members of the committee of the "no-can-do" bureaucracy, which has historically opposed the establishment of such an office.

"The ombudsman must be independent, impartial, function confidentially and enjoy a credible investigative process," said Mr. Marin. He also urged that the Ombudsman must have powers to make recommendations about real issues of concern to veterans including the pension awards and the treatment of their pension appeals by the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.

Describing the members of the Standing Committee as the "last ray of hope for our veterans," Mr. Marin urged the government to create an ombudsman reporting to Parliament, with powers to enter premises, as well as to subpoena witnesses and documents. He also recommended that it should be an offence for an individual to refuse to cooperate with an ombudsman investigation. "My office has enjoyed such powers over 500 provincial government bodies for over 30 years," explained Ontario's Ombudsman, questioning why the veterans should accept any less from their own watchdog.

He urged the committee members not to create an impotent position, or as he dubbed it, an "ombuddy model" as a mere public relations gesture. "To succumb to the ombuddy model would be seen by veterans as the ultimate betrayal of the sacrifice they made to this country," he said.

"The government's proposal to create such an office is an important one for our veterans, many of whom have grown disillusioned with their treatment both at the hands of the Canadian Forces and the Department of Veterans Affairs," said Mr. Marin who was military ombudsman for almost seven years until 2005 when he became the Ombudsman for Ontario.

"It is the role of an Ombudsman to investigate citizens' complaints against the administration and to make recommendations to fix maladministration," stated Mr. Marin. He explained that this is the true definition of ombudsman, which has been established since 1809 when the first Parliamentary ombudsman was appointed in Sweden. Since then, the term has, at times, been "bastardized" making some offices look more like lapdogs than watchdogs. He warned against an office that could end up being no more than one "to give veterans a big group hug and a shoulder to cry on," he said.

Mr. Marin appealed to the Committee members to avoid establishing "a mere facade of an Ombudsman's office" but to create a body that will truly be an ally for veterans in eliminating administrative injustice by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This press release is available in French

The Ombudsman is an officer of the Legislature and is independent of both the political process and government administration. Generally an office of last resort, the Ombudsman investigates and resolves complaints about provincial governmental organizations and recommends corrective action. Services are free and confidential. Other languages can be arranged. For further information, call 416-586-3300, TTY 1-866-411-4211 or visit our website: www.ombudsman.on.ca.

Contact Information

  • To arrange interview with the Ombudsman, please contact:
    Barbara Theobalds
    Media Relations Advisor
    (416) 586-3423
    Email: btheobalds@ombudsman.on.ca