Speech of the Ombudsperson - Tabling of the 2014-2015 Annual Report
(Check Against Delivery)
Allow me to briefly go over some of the elements that stand out the most from the Annual Report of the Québec Ombudsman that has just been tabled in the National Assembly.
From the outset, I would like to point out that tight management of public funds is not, in my opinion, inconsistent with quality services. However, resource decreases or reallocation of resources with a view to a quality slate of services call for informed, deliberate and rigorously applied choices. In the course of its interventions, the Québec Ombudsman has seen that consideration and commitment have not always been there to counteract the undesirable effects of certain measures on citizens and businesses.
These measures have to make sense both financially and in terms of the extra vigilance needed regarding the modern needs of citizens and the very basis of the mission of every public body.
On this score, again this year I insist on mental health and home support services, which continue to be underfunded despite glaring needs.
Another trend—some departments and agencies favour recourse to the courts as a way of settling disputes. When we know how much it costs citizens and the public treasury to go to court, when we know how long it takes before cases are heard, and when we consider that the Administration’s means far exceed those of citizens, then the importance of keeping recourse to the courts a last resort comes fully into focus. We know that there are different ways of taking every party’s version of events into account and of reaching conclusions justly and fairly. At a time of public belt tightening, it seems even more appropriate to rely on such ways of resolving disputes at less cost and more quickly.
That said, our work at the Québec Ombudsman gives us multiple opportunities to see that for the most part, public service staff are driven by the will to do their job competently. This year, 97% of the Québec Ombudsman’s recommendations were accepted and followed in their entirety; this attests to the advances and efforts of the Administration to improve its services and to deliver these services in a manner that respects citizens’ rights.
Thank you. And now I’ll be glad to take your questions.