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The ombudsman given oversight of Sudbury council, school boards

By: Darren MacDonald - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Mar 06, 2014 - 6:02 PM |
If new accountability legislation passes in the Ontario Legislature, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin -- seen here addressing council in December 2012 -- will gain sweeping new powers to oversee Sudbury city council, which fired him in 2013. File photo.

If new accountability legislation passes in the Ontario Legislature, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin -- seen here addressing council in December 2012 -- will gain sweeping new powers to oversee Sudbury city council, which fired him in 2013. File photo.

But new measures must pass in Legislature, may become election issue

Ontario's ombudsman is getting the authority to oversee Sudbury city council again, and this time he'll have powers beyond investigating closed-door meetings.

However, it's unclear exactly when Andre Marin would gain oversight of all Ontario municipalities, school boards and universities. The measures introduced Thursday by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne must pass in the Legislature, where the Liberals are a minority.

The opposition Progressive Conservatives and NDP have said they will bring down Wynne's government when it introduces its spring budget. If the new accountability measure don't pass before then, they will likely become a campaign issue for the widely anticipated spring election.

However, should the measures pass, it would be a significant victory for the Ombudsman, who was fired by Sudbury council a little more than a year ago as their closed-door meeting investigator. Under the new measures, Marin would be able to investigate a much broader range of issues.

When asked on twitter whether he could, for example, investigate complaints about new security measures going up at Tom Davies Square, restricting public and media access and movements during council and committee meetings, Marin responded with a simple “yes.”

Other measures announced Thursday include:
-- Establishing a Patient Ombudsman to help patients resolve complaints against public hospitals, Long-Term Care homes and Community Care Access Centres;
-- Providing the Ontario Integrity Commissioner with the power to review executive expenses in selected organizations. All 197 classified agencies and four hydro entities would be included by regulation;
-- Amending the Lobbyists Registration Act, providing new powers for the Integrity Commissioner to investigate alleged violations of the act.
-- The proposed amendments would also establish new rules prohibiting lobbyists from lobbying and providing paid advice on the same subject matter at the same time.

Look for an updated story on the Wynne announcement Friday at northernlife.ca.  
Darren MacDonald

Darren MacDonald

Staff Writer

@Darrenmacd

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