Position Title: Ombudsman, City of Toronto
Reports to: City Council
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Listening. Investigating. Improving City Services.
The Office of the Ombudsman officially opened in April 2009, and Toronto is the only Ontario municipality with a legislated Ombudsman. In the City of Toronto Act, 2006, the provincial government created the role of Ombudsman as part of an independent Accountability Framework for the City. This Framework, designed to ensure the City remains open and transparent, comprises four Accountability Officers which include the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, the Integrity Commission, and the Lobbyist Registrar. Since 2015, the four Accountability Offices have operated under a Memorandum of Understanding which provides for co-operation and collaboration among them in fulfilling their respective mandates, and enhances the fairness, efficiency and effectiveness of the Accountability Framework.
Ombudsman Toronto’s influence comes from making necessary, reasonable and practical recommendations of ways to improve City services in the public interest.
Our vision is a City of Toronto government that treats all people fairly.
Ombudsman Toronto is an independent and effective voice for fairness at the City of Toronto.
- listen to the public’s concerns about City services and administration
- investigate by asking questions, gathering information and analyzing evidence
- explore ways to resolve individual cases without taking sides
- shine a light on problems and recommend system improvements
Independence and Impartiality:We operate at arm’s length from the City. This allows us to be unbiased and objective. We speak up for fairness.
Fairness and Equity:We investigate whether a decision, act or omission by the City was fair. We look at the process, the outcome, and how people are treated. We consider people’s circumstances and needs.
Accessibility:We make it easy for everyone to use our services. If we cannot help with someone’s complaint, we direct them to someone who can.
Respect and Empathy:We listen to the people we serve with an open mind. We understand we don’t have all the answers, so we ask members of the public and City staff lots of questions.
Willingness to Help: We do our utmost to resolve complaints and concerns as quickly and informally as possible. We work constructively with City staff to ensure they serve the public fairly.
Professionalism: We are rigorous in our approach. We base our findings on evidence. We identify practical solutions and recommendations. We maintain confidentiality while clearly communicating the results of our work.
Toronto’s Ombudsman is an independent officer, appointed by and reporting to Toronto City Council, who overseeing an office that operates independently and at arm’s length from the City (approximately 15 staff and an operating budget of approximately $2 million). The Ombudsman carries the responsibilities, powers and duties as set out in Part V of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and works to ensure fairness to all people in City of Toronto services and administration. This position oversees the work of Ombudsman Toronto, a complaints office of last resort and focused on investigating and resolving public complaints, covering a diverse range of issues involving administrative fairness and maladministration in City services across all City divisions and almost all City agencies, corporations and adjudicative bodies. The Ombudsman also identifies and takes action on systemic issues and works constructively with the City administration to improve fairness.
The Ombudsman is the consummate professional and trusted advisor in the public interest, with a vision and passion for creating sustainable change in the City of Toronto.
Key Responsibilities and Accountabilities:
- Carry out in an independent manner the duties and responsibilities of their office as set out in Part V of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 3, Accountability Officers.
- Assess and investigate complaints from the public related to the administration of City services when internal complaint systems have been exhausted.
- Acts independently and impartially to advance the public’s right to fairness. Works to promote and ensure fair process, fair outcomes, and fair treatment.
- Maintain accountability to City Council for budgets, office management and exercise of their duties under the “City of Toronto Act”
- Identifies and investigates administrative decisions, acts and omissions of the City government that are unjust or discriminatory, and systems that serve the public poorly.
- Sets the overall strategic direction for Ombudsman Toronto by independently establishing goals, objectives and priorities.
- Provides leadership, guidance, and support to staff at Ombudsman Toronto, ensuring that the organizational principles of the office are respected and followed, including equity, impartiality, integrity, professionalism, timeliness, thoroughness and accuracy and meaningful responses to complaints.
- Provides oversight and support to the Deputy Ombudsman on all operations of the Ombudsman Toronto office including investigations and resolutions, budget and financial responsibilities, human resources, legal issues, policy, research and data, stakeholder engagement, and office operations.
- Provides ongoing leadership by using effective management techniques, implementing change management processes and developing staff to be able to respond to a challenging and always changing work environment, enhance the overall performance of the office and meet the expectations of Council, the public and the City administration.
- Establishes systems, programs, processes and a structure within Ombudsman Toronto for management of information and decision-making to maximize effectiveness, efficiency, resource control and reporting and ensure the financial administration and organizational effectiveness of the office.
- Oversees all aspects of the office’s human resources and staff relations.
- Conducts short and long term financial planning and case load forecasting for the development of budgets and establishes financial management systems to ensure office budgets are effectively and responsibly managed.
- Oversees the analysis of trends and research, and identifies patterns in complaints and potential systemic issues.
- Identifies individual and systemic issues leading to unfairness to people and/or poor service by the City.
- Makes recommendations and oversees the implementation of solutions to address systemic issues through the creation and/or modification of guidelines, policies and procedures, processes, and system improvements.
- Issues public reports containing findings and recommendations to Council.
- Works constructively but at arm’s length with leaders of the City’s Agencies, Boards, Corporations and Divisions to improve their service to the public.
- Coordinate with other accountability officers on issues that intersect with other accountability mandates and processes.
- Oversees and coordinates the policy framework and administration of Ombudsman Toronto services.
- Manages media relations and represents Ombudsman Toronto in the media and other public forums.
- Oversees and conducts extensive communications, education and outreach to the public, including vulnerable or equity-deserving communities, City Council members and City administration, to ensure that the requirements of administrative fairness and the role of Ombudsman Toronto are well-understood.
- Promotes continuous improvement.
- Demonstrates high level of commitment to ensuring compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- Prepares annual Ombudsman Toronto reports presented to City Council.
- At the Ombudsman’s discretion, presents other public reports to City Council.
The ideal candidate will possess the following skills, knowledge, experience and attributes:
- University degree in a field related to one or more of the following: law, social science, political science, psychology or public administration or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience. Advanced knowledge and understanding of administrative fairness, applicable legislation and legal principles that establish and underlie the Ombudsman’s mandate.
- Extensive experience in administrative law and/or Ombudsman work at a senior management level in the public service, or in a legal/judicial institution. Proven, effective and highly respected leader and visionary in the field of Administrative Law or Ombudsman practice, with a broad knowledge of government structures and functions, Ombudsman work and issues affecting the citizens of Toronto.
- A track record of garnering credibility and trust with multiple and diverse constituents; leads by example with evidence of excellent reputation and regard.
- Extensive management experience leading, motivating and coaching a team, supporting the Toronto Public Service values and ensuring a culture that champions equity, diversity and respectful workplaces.
- Extensive experience in, and an in-depth working knowledge of investigations, fact finding and mediation.
- Extensive experience communicating and engaging with the diverse range of people, including members of the public from vulnerable or equity-deserving communities, individually and through the media.
- Extensive experience in reports and/or decision writing, paired with excellent writing skills and the ability to interpret laws and make decisions on complex matters.
- Excellent judgment, strong analytical skills, political acuity, process management, interpersonal and relationship-building skills, proven negotiation, coaching, persuasion, investigative skills, conflict resolution, highly developed written and oral communication skills.
- Ability to respond to questions from elected officials in a public forum. Ability to speak “truth to power” and address problems at the highest level, while remaining non-judgmental with complete impartiality, integrity and confidentiality.
- Strong commitment to public service, quality in service delivery and application of administrative fairness.
- Ability to navigate complex environments.
- Media training is an asset.
The City of Toronto is committed to employment equity and encourages applications from Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, members of visible minority groups and women.
The City of Toronto strives to build an inclusive society and providing an accessible environment in which all individuals have access to the City’s services and programs in a way that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities.
Learn more about the City’s commitment to accommodation and employment equity. Should you require accommodation in order to participate as a candidate in the hiring process, please communicate your needs to the LHH Knightsbridge executive search team.
If you are interested in being considered for this exciting and challenging senior executive leadership position, please submit your expression of interest (cover letter and current resume) by Friday, February 19, 2021 to Lindsay Millard, Senior Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ombudsman Toronto” in the subject line.
Should you have any questions regarding this opportunity, please contact a member of the Project Team:
Janice Kussner, Partner
Chris Sawyer, Partner
Lindsay Millard, Senior Consultant
Oksana Krupa, Executive Assistant