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Yukon Ombudsman

Ombudsman calls to modernize Act

Wed, Apr 10, 2024


April 10, 2024

Ombudsman calls to modernize Act

WHITEHORSE – Yukon Ombudsman, Jason Pedlar has requested amendments to the Ombudsman Act that give him the same authority found in the majority of Canadian jurisdictions and align it with international best practices. Pedlar has submitted a report to the Yukon Legislative Assembly with proposed changes to the Ombudsman Act, to better protect Yukoners.

The Act was first passed in 1996 and has not undergone any substantive changes since. The two most significant proposed amendments are related to expanded authority; the ability to conduct “own motion” investigations and inclusion of municipalities within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

Own motion authority allows the Ombudsman to proactively investigate a matter without having received a complaint. This power reduces barriers and delays in investigating concerns that come to his attention, when, for a variety of reasons, individuals may not file a complaint. The Yukon Ombudsman is the only territorial or provincial ombudsman without own motion authority.

“If we hadn’t received a complaint about the communications failure regarding the sexualized assault of a student at Hidden Valley Elementary School, we wouldn’t have had the authority to investigate and provide recommendations to the Department of Education on this matter,” said Jason Pedlar, Yukon Ombudsman. “Own motion would have allowed us to investigate on first hearing about the incident.”

Similarly, including municipalities under the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction also protects and promotes administrative fairness in interactive exchanges between individuals and non-elected officials at the municipal level. While all other territorial and provincial ombuds offices in Canada have own motion power, the majority also have jurisdiction over municipalities.

“All levels of government and other public authorities should be subject to an oversight mechanism like an Ombudsman whose duty is to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability in administrative matters under their authority,” said Pedlar. “Citizens receive programs and services from municipalities every day with few options for addressing complaints if they feel they have been treated unfairly and often by the very department they have a complaint against. For this reason, I am of the view that municipalities should be included in our oversight - there simply isn’t a good reason not to.”

These proposed amendments to authority align with international best practices identified through the Venice Principles on the Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsman Institutions, adopted by the Venice Commission.

Other proposed amendments are administrative in nature and intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Act. Pedlar is not the first to speak about the need to modernize the Act, as his predecessors also identified the need for change.

The special report is now available on our website.


About the Yukon Ombudsman:

The Yukon Ombudsman, Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner is an independent officer of the Yukon Legislative Assembly working to protect the public interest.

The Yukon Ombudsman promotes and protects fairness in the delivery of public services provided by Government of and other public authorities. If a citizen has been treated unfairly when engaging these services, we work to resolve the unfairness. The Ombudsman also works proactively with Authorities to assist them in delivering services more fairly.


Tara Martin
Director of Intake and Informal Case Resolution
Office of the Yukon Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner & Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner

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