Ombudsman saw more health and welfare complaints in 2012

Savard

The ombudsman of Montreal received 79 complaints about unclean or unmaintained dwellings in 2012, a figure significantly higher than ever before. In 2011, the figure was 62, while in 2010, it was 42.

“The healthiness of dwellings, in low rent housing and in private buildings, is also a topic which the ombudsman handles more frequently,” said a press release from Johanne Savard’s office with a copy of the annual report last Wednesday, March 20. “In some instances, the health of tenants had been affected and the Direction de la santé publique de Montréal (DSP) had issued recommendations requiring certain decontamination work and sometimes even, the evacuation of occupants.”

These complaints were among 1,542 new requests in 2012, 208 more than the previous year. The only year in which the office received more complaints was 2008 when 1,713 people asked her to intervene.

What happened to ombudsman complaints?

Due to all the rules for her participation, the Savard investigated only 238 of the complaints lodged in her office. Of the others, 746 complaints were referred to someone else, 557 were refused and 36 complaints were withdrawn by citizens.
The Ombudsman of Montreal only handles cases twenty days after complaints are lodged and dealt with unsuccessfully by all city departments in charge of the issue. Also, several city organizations such as the police and the OMHM, operate their own complaint offices, adding a double layer of bureaucracy for citizens to navigate before consulting the ombudsman. Most of these institutions handle complaints in writing only; people have to diligently fill out forms or write letters before they get attention to their issues.

Savard also handled thirty-five cases that began in previous years.

Where did ombudsman complaints come from?

Montreal’s municipal court was the most frequent source of complaints, with 113 with the borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal receiving 104. The OMHM came in third place with 99 complaints. The behaviour of municipal employees, police and parking also caused citizen aggravation, as did the boroughs of Cote-des-Neiges NDG, Ville-Marie, Rosemont-LaPetite-Patrie and Mercier Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

How many complaints did the ombudsman investigate?

In the end, Savard investigated 175 complaints fully, and was able to find solutions acceptable to both parties in 92 cases.

For a copy of the summary in English and the report in French, visit the website at http://ombudsmandemontreal.com/en/

Note: This story appeared on page 10 of the City edition of the Suburban today.

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