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Manitoba Ombudsman adds nine new investigation reports to website

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Jun 22, 2015

Manitoba Ombudsman has posted nine new investigation reports on its website – five under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and four under The Ombudsman Act.

“The nine reports we have posted today reflect a variety of complaints brought forward to our office by Manitobans,” said Manitoba Ombudsman Charlene Paquin. “The FIPPA reports clarify provisions in the act where access to information has been refused and The Ombudsman Act reports all highlight situations where, through our investigative process, we were able to suggest administrative changes to policies and procedures that could potentially help to prevent such complaints from recurring in the future.”

The five FIPPA reports include:

2013-0244: An individual requested access to the City of Winnipeg’s vacant buildings registry. The application was refused on the basis of a FIPPA exception that allows a public body to refuse access if releasing information could “reasonably be expected to harm or threaten the security of any property or system…” The ombudsman agreed that the FIPPA exception applied in this situation.

2013-0407: An individual requested access to records from Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation about the St. Jean Baptiste Bridge project. Access was initially granted in part. The ombudsman found that while some information in the draft document could reveal advice, opinions, analyses and recommendations to government, other parts of the document could have been released. The fact that it was in draft form did not necessarily preclude it from being disclosed. The department exercised its discretion to withhold the document.

2014-0037: An applicant requested records from Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning related to expenses of Red River College’s president. The department provided access to a severed advisory note, and later disclosed additional information from the record after the ombudsman found that some of the severed information was publicly available.

2014-0280: An individual requested a video from Manitoba Housing. Access was denied on the basis that the record was part of an ongoing Winnipeg Police Service investigation and that disclosure of the record could be harmful to the investigation. The ombudsman was satisfied that the exceptions to disclosure in FIPPA were reasonably applied.

2014-0317: An individual sought access to records related to her spouse’s application made under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. Manitoba Labour and Immigration refused access on the basis that disclosure of the records would result in an unreasonable invasion of her spouse’s privacy. The ombudsman determined that they contained personal information that the public body was prohibited from disclosing.

The FIPPA investigation reports are available at:

https://www.ombudsman.mb.ca/documents_and_files/investigation-reports.html (scroll down to “Access Reports”)

The four Ombudsman Act reports include:

2013-0117: An individual complained about how the North Eastman Health Authority (now the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority) handled a critical incident resulting from an injury he sustained at a health-care facility. The ombudsman found that the health authority was not in compliance with some policies related to critical incidents. While Manitoba Health was not the subject of the complaint, the ombudsman directed two recommendations to Manitoba Health because it is the body that provides direction to health authorities on a number of matters, including critical incident reporting. Manitoba Health agreed with the ombudsman’s recommendations.

2014-0070: An individual contacted our office about an invoice she received from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) for costs WFPS had incurred by hiring a private company to secure a fire-damaged garage. The individual did not believe that the contractor carried out work on her property, nor did she believe that WFPS adequately responded to her concerns about the invoice. After our office contacted WFPS, they found that the work described on the contractor’s invoice had not been done. WFPS refunded the individual the full invoiced amount and has implemented administrative improvements.  The ombudsman found that WFPS gave reasonable consideration to this matter and administrative improvements implemented should help to prevent future complaints of this nature.

2014-0252: A property owner complained that the Local Government District (LGD) of Pinawa unfairly denied her request to be reimbursed for a portion of the charges she incurred for multiple sewer line inspections and repairs. The individual also questioned whether an increase in property tax assessment was related to her disagreement with the LGD. The ombudsman found that the LGD followed applicable legislation, policies and procedures regarding the complainant’s sewer line repairs and that the property tax assessment increase was not affected by the complainant’s sewer dispute with the LGD. The ombudsman also identified two administrative changes that, if implemented, would improve the LGD’s administrative practices regarding property owner requests for reimbursement.

2013-0069: Property owners complained that the Red River Planning District and the Rural Municipality of St. Clements handled their subdivision application unfairly. The RM delayed making a decision about the subdivision application (despite having approved similar requests in the past) on the basis that an anticipated secondary development plan would provide guidance on such matters. The secondary plan, however, had not yet been finalized, so after a two year delay, the RM approved the subdivision application, which was then subsequently denied by the planning district. The property owners appealed the decision to the Municipal Board and the appeal is still ongoing. The ombudsman found that the subdivision application was not treated consistently with how other similar applications were treated, and that the property owners experienced an inordinate and excessive delay. The ombudsman suggested that the planning district and RM review the process by which they deal with subdivision applications in the interest of providing better customer service, and that the RM develop a policy that sets out when, how and for what period a subdivision application may be tabled. The RM agreed to develop a policy, and the planning district explained that it is revising its brochures to ensure that the subdivision process and procedures are clear to the public.

The Ombudsman Act reports are available at either:

https://www.ombudsman.mb.ca/documents_and_files/provincial-investigation-reports.html (for the regional health authority case)

https://www.ombudsman.mb.ca/documents_and_files/municipal-investigation-reports.html (for the municipal investigation reports)