The Ombudsperson delivers her findings on the quality of public services in Québec
Québec City, September 28, 2017 – On the occasion of the tabling of her Annual Report (April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017) in the National Assembly today, Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret presented her findings on service quality within Government of Québec departments and agencies, the health and social services network and correctional facilities.
Foresee the effect of changes in public programs on people
“While it is desirable that public services evolve with a view to greater efficiency, any transformation must be planned with vision and rigour and focus on the well-being of citizens. However, the fact is that the risk for adverse effects on people, especially for the most vulnerable, are not factored in when these changes are made,” said Marie Rinfret.
A few examples: lack of information from Revenu Québec about changes to the solidarity tax credit; long processing times by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion for applications transmitted via the new web portal, Mon projet Québec; problems in deploying the reform of the health and social services network.
On the personal level
Alongside transformations within public services, thought must also be given to the adaptations required by people forced to reorganize their life after an automobile or a work-related accident, a crime of which they were a victim, a job loss or a decline in their autonomy. The public services which accompany people through these transitions must be able to provide a response that is adequate, rapid and flexible.
The complaints received by the Québec Ombudsman showed that this is not always the case: long wait times for compensating victims of job-related pulmonary diseases (Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail), long delays in replying to applications for the surviving spouse’s pension (Retraite Québec), decrease in the average duration of home support services, and trouble getting a place in a CHSLD.
In closing, Ms. Rinfret urged citizens (including associations and businesses) to feel free to contact the Québec Ombudsman if they feel dissatisfied with public services. “You can send your request using the secure online form at protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca or by phone at 1-800-463-5070. Our services are free of charge and our recommendations are accepted in more than 98% of cases,” she explained. She also pointed out that the Québec Ombudsman’s action is different from but complements that of the courts, and that often it prevents lengthy and costly litigation.
About the Québec Ombudsman
The Québec Ombudsman handles public service complaints with complete independence and impartiality. In 2016-2017, it received 19, 872 requests (complaints, reports and requests for assistance, information and referral). It also carries out preventive and systemic action (analysis of bills and draft regulations, special interventions on various issues).
The Québec Ombudsman’s areas of jurisdiction are:
- Complaints concerning government departments and agencies whose personnel are appointed under the Public Service Act;
- Complaints and reports concerning the health and social services network (second level of recourse in the case of complaints, after the service quality and complaints commissioner of the institution in question; first level of recourse in the case of reports);
- Complaints from detainees in provincial correctional facilities;
- Since May 1, 2017, public integrity disclosures and reprisal complaints in the context of disclosure. NOTE: The Québec Ombudsman will detail its activities in this regard in its 2017-2018 Annual Report.
Marie Rinfret, Ombudsperson
Appointed Ombudsperson by the Members of the National Assembly, Marie Rinfret took office on March 27, 2017. Last May, the Québec Bar Association awarded her the Mérite Christine-Tourigny prize in recognition of her social commitment and contribution to the advancement of women within Québec society. From 2011 to 2016, Ms. Rinfret chaired the Commission de l’équité salariale. When the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) was created in 2016, she became vice president of the new agency’s pay equity section.
Information : Carole-Anne Huot, (418) 646-7143/(418) 925-7994