OLIP’s guide to a few of Ontario’s Independent Legislative Officers
Before joining OLIP, many of us weren’t familiar with the nine Ontario Independent Legislative Officers. They include the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Auditor General of Ontario, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, the Ontario Ombudsman, French Language Services Commissioner, Integrity Commissioner, and the Financial Accountability Officer. Lucky for us, we were able to sit down with several of the officers to hear about their important role in this province. Here is what we learned!
Ms. Lysyk and her team shared the ins and outs of the auditing process in Ontario. The Auditor General plays an important role as an independent office of the Legislative Assembly. They conduct value-for-money and financial audits of the provincial government, its ministries and agencies. Moreover, they audit organizations in the broader public sector that receive provincial funding, such as universities and colleges, hospitals, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and school boards.
Ombudsman Paul Dubé and the deputy Ombudsman, Barb Finlay provided a refreshingly positive perspective how the Ombudsman fulfills their mandate to provide constructive recommendations to government agencies. Although governments and government agencies receive these recommendations, they are under no obligation to follow through on their suggestions although they are usually enforced. However, the Ombudsman is traditionally r the last resort for a complaint and they have their own discretion not to investigate. Mr. Dubé and Ms. Finlay encompass a collaborative and supportive environment which manifests in their workplace culture and their proactive communication to Ontarians.
Francois Boileau is the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario. He is passionate about fulfilling the office’s mandate to ensure French language services are available to francophones across the province. He is genuinely passionate about expanding that mandate further to help more Ontarians gain access to necessary French goods and services. For example, he is expanding the definition of francophones to include people from diverse ethnic backgrounds who speak French at home. Mr. Boileau also took us through examples of why French language services are important to thousands of Ontarians navigating a government and social systems designed for English speaking people.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is tasked with resolving thousands of access to information appeals and privacy complaints every year. To do this, they research, review and approve information practices and provide their recommendations on tabled legislation, policies and programs relating to issues of privacy. The commissioner talked about his offices’ his role in overseeing compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA); which allows the public to request government documents, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA); which analyses city corporations and school boards and Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA); which supervises the healthcare sector.
We look forward to meeting the remaining Independent Officers in the coming weeks. Be sure to check out the Independent Officers – they are here to support all Ontarians and ensure transparent, accountable governments!