The Québec ombudsman's powers

Can the Québec Ombudsman intervene to have the Premier of Québec modify decisions?

No. The Québec Ombudsman is not empowered to contest decisions by the Premier, ministers or any other elected officials. What’s more, it cannot comment on government appointments, announcement of public subsidies or the outcome of negotiations.

As an impartial and independent ombudsman, it acts regarding the services provided by government departments and agencies or health and social services institutions. When necessary, it makes recommendations aimed at rectifying any abuse, mistake or failing. Examples? Long wait times, misinformation or unwarranted administrative decisions.

However, the Québec Ombudsman can also act upstream by commenting on bills introduced in the National Assembly or government draft regulations.

Can the Québec Ombudsman handle medical complaints?

Many people turn to the Québec Ombudsman to file complaints against a hospital pharmacist, dentist, physician or resident. It’s important to know that the Québec Ombudsman’s jurisdiction does not extend to these professionals.

In such a case, who do you go to?

  1. First, you file a complaint with the service quality and complaints commissioner of the institution that the professional is associated with.

  2. The commissioner sees that your complaint is forwarded to the institution’s medical examiner.

  3. If you disagree with the medical examiner’s conclusions, you can complain to the institution’s review committee.

If the acts for which you filed a complaint occurred in private practice, you have to go to the professional order of competent jurisdiction:

Note that the complaint assistance and support centre (CAAP) in your region can help you put together the complaint. CAAP is an independent organization mandated by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to assist users file complaints.

Can the Québec Ombudsman have a decision by the Directeur de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ) overturned?

The first thing to remember is that, generally speaking, the Québec Ombudsman handles complaints concerning the Directeur de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ) as a second instance. In other words, you have to take your complaint to the service quality and complaints commissioner first. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome (commissioner’s decision, grounds, attitude, processing time), then you can turn to the Québec Ombudsman.

However, the Québec Ombudsman cannot challenge a DPJ decision regarding, for example, the assessment of a report or any measure to help a young person and his or her family. 

However, it can look into whether the administrative rules specific to DPJ operations were applied correctly for the case submitted to it. For example, did the caseworker check the facts thoroughly and gather all the information on the child’s situation? There is a procedure for this. Was it followed? 

If necessary, the Québec Ombudsman recommends that the DPJ make the required changes. 

If the DPJ and the parents of a child disagree about the child being removed from the family environment, for example, the Chambre de la jeunesse can hear the case and its decision is then applied by the DPJ. Here again, the Québec Ombudsman cannot act to have the decision overturned, but it can act concerning the DPJ’s compliance with rules and practices.

Can the Québec Ombudsman act when it comes to community organizations?

3,500… That's the approximate number of community organizations regarding which the Québec Ombudsman may receive and process complaints and reports. Some examples are social economy enterprises, organizations that offer home assistance, and transitional resources.

The following four criteria characterize the community organization's under the Québec Ombudsman's jurisdiction:

  1. it is a legal person, constituted under an Act of Québec;

  2. it is a non-profit organization;

  3. its affairs are administered by a board of directors composed in the majority of users of the services offered by the organization or members of the community served by the organization;

  4. its activities are related to the field of health and social services.

If you are dissatisfied with a community organization's services, you must first address your complaint to the Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) in your region. If you are not satisfied with the Commissioner's conclusions or if you have not received a response from the Commissioner within 45 days, you may address the Québec Ombudsman.

The Québec Ombudsman may also intervene directly on its own initiative,or if it receives a report regarding a community organization under its jurisdiction. Unlike a complaint, which is generally filed by the individual who is personally suffering from the situation he or she is denouncing, or by that person's representative, a report is made by a third party: the person observes deficiencies in an institution and informs the Québec Ombudsman for the welfare of the people concerned.

Can the Québec Ombudsman have a tribunal decision overturned ?

No. The Québec Ombudsman cannot act to have a decision by a tribunal amended or overturned. That is why it is very important for you refer to the Québec Ombudsman BEFORE deciding to take legal action, especially regarding the administrative tribunals and agencies listed below:

  • Commission d’accès à l’information;

  • Conseil de la justice administrative; 

  • Conseil de la magistrature;

  • Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales;

  • Régie du logement;

  • Tribunal administratif du Québec;

  • Tribunal administratif du travail.

However, we have the authority to handle a complaint regarding the administrative functions (service quality, wait times, etc.) of these tribunals. For any questions on this subject, feel free to call one of our offices.

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