Ontario Ombudsman History

About the Ombudsman, the Office and its history

Ontario Ombudsman History

The Office of the Ombudsman was established by the Ontario legislature in 1975.

Arthur Maloney was sworn in as the province’s first Ombudsman on October 30 of that year, after the Ombudsman Act was passed on May 22 and given royal assent on July 3. The 1975 version of the act can be viewed This link opens in a new windowhere (Ombudsman Act - Accessible PDF).

Attempts to introduce such legislation began as early as 1962. In 1965, Vernon Singer, MPP for Downsview, introduced a private member’s bill calling for the appointment of a “Parliamentary Commissioner” to investigate administrative decisions and acts of officials of the provincial government and its agencies. Mr. Singer continued to introduce this bill for the next 10 consecutive sessions of the Legislature. In 1971, the Ontario government under Premier William Davis first promised in its Speech from the Throne to introduce legislation to create an Ombudsman. It repeated and fulfilled this promise in 1975.

Ontario was the sixth province to establish a parliamentary ombudsman, after Alberta and New Brunswick (1967), Quebec (1968), Manitoba and Nova Scotia (1970) and Saskatchewan (1972). Today, all Canadian provinces except Prince Edward Island have ombudsmen, as does Yukon. All provincial ombudsmen oversee provincial government services and parts of the broader public sector.

The title “Ombudsman” is a Swedish term dating back more than 200 years that means “citizen’s representative” and is considered to be gender-neutral. Ontario’s ombudsmen to date are:

Arthur Maloney (term 1975-1978)

Arthur Maloney term 1975-1978
  • First Ontario Ombudsman.
  • Former federal MP and criminal lawyer.
  • Focused on public education.
  • Visited more than 100 municipalities with staff to take complaints.
  • Created special investigative teams to tackle complaints involving correctional and psychiatric institutions.
  • Called for expanded mandate to oversee the broader public sector or “MUSH” sector (municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals and long-term care homes).
  • Advocated for the right to make Ombudsman special reports public.
  • Issued special report on land acquisition in Pickering for proposed airport, recommending that government fairly compensate affected landowners.
  • Launched system to keep all correspondence between the Ombudsman’s office and provincial inmates confidential - still in use today.

Donald Morand (term 1979-1984)

Donald Morand term 1979-1984
  • Second Ontario Ombudsman.
  • Previously a justice of what was then known as the Supreme Court of Ontario.
  • Announced new office in Thunder Bay.
  • Recommended government compensate victims of Re-Mor Investment collapse – $3.8 million was awarded to affected investors.
  • Focused on bolstering relationship between Ombudsman office and MPPs.
  • Investigated delays in Wintario (lottery) revenue funding flowing to government services.
  • Looked into overcrowding in correctional facilities.
  • Recommended the revamping and streamlining of legislation governing workers’ compensation, resulting in major changes to the board’s practice in awarding pensions disabled workers.

Daniel Hill (term 1984-1989)

Daniel Hill term 1984-1989
  • Third Ontario Ombudsman.
  • Previously the first Human Rights Commissioner of Ontario.
  • First Ombudsman in Canada to focus on the provision of services to the developmentally disabled.
  • Dedicated a special investigator to ethnocultural issues.
  • Opened offices across Northern Ontario, appointed a Native Programs Officer, and visited remote First Nations communities to hear their concerns.
  • Made services available in 21 languages and published office newsletter in Braille.
  • Advocated for the creation of a federal Ombudsman and called for several changes to the Ombudsman Act, supporting Mr. Maloney’s call for jurisdiction over the MUSH sector.

Roberta Jamieson (term 1989-1999)

Roberta Jamieson term 1989-1999
  • Fourth Ontario Ombudsman.
  • First female ombudsman.
  • First woman from a First Nation to earn a law degree in Canada.
  • Extensively promoted conflict resolution and was first recipient of Mary Parker Follet Award from the International Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution.
  • Reported on delays at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
  • Investigated problems with service delivery at the Family Responsibility Office.
  • Called for a national Ombudsman.
  • Founding President of the Canadian Ombudsman Association.
  • Recommended Ombudsman appointment process be open to public competition and chosen by all-party committee.

Clare Lewis (term 2000-2005)

Clare Lewis term 2000-2005
  • Fifth Ontario Ombudsman.
  • Previously a provincial court judge, Crown attorney, defence lawyer, Public Complaints Commissioner, and Police Complaints Commissioner of Ontario.
  • Focused on the treatment of children with special needs and advocated for better conditions in Ontario prisons.
  • Special report on funding for breast and prostate cancer patients in Northern Ontario resulted in the doubling of the travel allowance under the Northern Health Travel Grant.
  • Promoted ombudsmanry nationally and abroad, serving as Director and Secretary to the Canadian Ombudsman Association; supported creation of the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman.
  • Served two terms as President of the International Ombudsman Institute.

André Marin (term 2005-2015)

André Marin term 2005-2015
  • Sixth Ontario Ombudsman, first to be appointed to a second term, and first to serve more than 10 years.
  • Previously Canada’s first military ombudsman, Director of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit, and Assistant Crown Attorney.
  • Gave the office its motto: “Ontario’s Watchdog.”
  • Reorganized office and focused resources on early complaint resolution and high-profile, systemic investigations into issues affecting millions of Ontarians, through the creation of the Special Ombudsman Response Team (SORT). See SORT investigations here.
  • Created “Sharpening Your Teeth” training course for administrative watchdogs – trained hundreds of ombudsmen and investigators around the world in conducting systemic investigations.
  • Pioneered and promoted the use of social media in ombudsman work.
  • Received awards from the Canadian Bar Association and Ontario Bar Association for excellence in public sector law.
  • Served as president of the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman, and North American Regional Vice-President of the International Ombudsman Institute.
  • Assumed responsibility for investigating closed municipal meetings under changes to the Municipal Act in 2008.
  • Reported annually on calls for oversight of broader public (“MUSH”) sector, reiterating Mr. Maloney’s position. In December 2014, “Bill 8,” the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 received royal assent, expanding the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction for the first time to municipalities, universities and school boards.