Public services with excessive red tape exclude the neediest citizens | Protecteur du Citoyen
September 26, 2019

Public services with excessive red tape exclude the neediest citizens

Québec City, September 26, 2019 – Today, Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret tabled her 2018-2019 Annual Report at the National Assembly. The report presents her findings concerning the quality and integrity of Québec public services. In it she cites numerous cases in which public services do not factor in the red tape imposed on citizens. Rules for accessing the different programs are too complex for some people concerned, and as a result, they are deprived of services they should be getting.

"I’m particularly concerned about public service access for people who are the most vulnerable because of their health, age, social and economic condition or their isolation. When access rules are too complicated, they deprive people of the services they need and have the right to," said Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret.

Examples of administrative requirements that are too onerous

  • More than 40,000 last-resort financial assistance recipients who qualify for the solidarity tax credit do not receive it. Revenu Québec requires them to file a tax return, a document that may be difficult for them to understand and fill out.
  • Under the social solidarity program, the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale grants last-resort financial assistance benefits to people (some 130,000) who cannot work due to illness, disability or a limiting personal condition. Beneficiaries are deprived of crucial amounts because they must grapple with procedure that is too complex, if not impossible, for them to cope with because of their condition.
  • On the health and social services front, elderly people are on waiting lists months, and sometimes years, before gaining access to a residential resource consistent with their needs. What’s more, people with reduced autonomy lose home support hours and feel completely overwhelmed by administrative requirements and the bottom-line approach.

Put yourself in citizens’ shoes

"With this year’s findings, I’m more convinced than ever that public bodies must put themselves in citizens’ shoes and take the trouble to go over the requirements and real impact of their programs attentively. Failure to do this adversely affects the citizens in question, especially the neediest among them," Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret concluded.

The Québec Ombudsman in 2018-2019: a few figures

  • 21,608 grounds for complaint processed;
  • 53,887 calls received;
  • 97.1% of calls answered in under 20 seconds;
  • 98.4% of recommendations accepted.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Québec Ombudsman. Since 1969, the institution has acted independently and impartially to ensure that the rights of citizens are upheld in their interactions with public services. Its services are free of charge and user-friendly.

See the highlights at rapportannuel.protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca.

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