Mandate

With the passage of Government Motion 27 on May 12, 2022, the Legislative Assembly appointed the Select Special Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner Search Committee for the purpose of inviting applications for the positions of Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner, and to recommend to the Assembly the applicant it considers most suitable to each position.

The Committee completed its mandate and released its report on December 5, 2022.

Position Profile

After passing the Ombudsman Act in 1967, legislators appointed the first Alberta Ombudsman, and over the years the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman has expanded. The goal of the Ombudsman is to ensure fairness in public administration and decisions for all Albertans.

The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act came into effect on June 1, 2013, making Alberta the seventh provincial jurisdiction in Canada to enact such legislation. Under this Act the Public Interest Commissioner investigates allegations of wrongdoing in the public service and complaints of reprisal.

Today the positions of Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner are held by one incumbent who is a highly credible leader with experience managing high-profile issues. The Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner is an Officer of the Legislature, reports directly to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and is independent of the government. The two entities are separate and distinct but are co-located in Edmonton with a satellite office in Calgary.

The Ombudsman promotes fairness in public administration and the provision of public services by objectively investigating complaints to determine whether a public agency has acted fairly and whether its actions and decisions are consistent with relevant legislation, policies and procedures.

The Ombudsman Act provides the legislative framework for the Ombudsman to investigate, review investigation results and make recommendations.  

Under Alberta’s Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman can investigate any administrative decision, recommendation, act or omission of:

  • Alberta provincial government, departments, agencies, boards and commissions,
  • Alberta municipalities,
  • Patient Concerns Resolution Process of Alberta Health Services,
  • Self-regulated health professions proclaimed under the Health Professions Act and
  • Other designated professional authorities such as accounting, forestry, veterinarian and agrologist professions.

The Public Interest Commissioner facilitates the disclosure and investigation of significant and serious matters in or relating to departments, public entities, offices or prescribed service providers, that an employee believes may be unlawful, dangerous to the public or injurious to the public interest. The Commissioner has the authority to investigate disclosures and complaints of reprisals, making strong and effective recommendations for corrective measures when wrongdoing is found.

The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act applies to provincial government departments, offices of the Legislature, Members of the Legislative Assembly, the Premier, Ministers and their offices, organizations in the health care sector and public entities, including provincial agencies, boards and commissions, postsecondary academic institutions, school boards, charter schools and accredited private schools that receive grants.

Drawing on executive-level leadership, investigative and management experience, the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner provides strategic direction and guidance to the team of professionals in the Alberta Ombudsman’s Office and the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner, based in Edmonton and Calgary. All geographical regions of the province are served from these two locations. The Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner is located in Edmonton.

The Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner is a nonpartisan, independent Officer of the Legislature appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly. Both positions are currently held by one person, as authorized in the Ombudsman Act and Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act.

The Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner reports to the Legislative Assembly through the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices with respect to annual reports of the Offices, proposed budgets and matters relating to each jurisdiction or authority under the respective Acts.

The Standing Committee on Legislative Offices is responsible for reviewing the budget and operations of the Offices of the Ethics Commissioner, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ombudsman, Public Interest Commissioner, Auditor General, Child and Youth Advocate and Chief Electoral Officer. The Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner meet with the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices during the year as necessary.

The Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner is involved with the administration of legislation related to the business of the Alberta Ombudsman and the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner and other related legislation and designated authorities. 

  • Ombudsman Act
  • Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act
  • Financial Administration Act
  • Municipal Government Act
  • Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act
  • Public Service Act
  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP Act)
       - Other applicable legislation

Ombudsman

Reviewing all complaints received to ensure they are within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and to ensure all available reviews or appeals have been exhausted prior to Ombudsman involvement. 

Investigating complaints from individuals with respect to administrative fairness about Government of Alberta departments, agencies, boards, commissions, municipalities, the Patient Concerns Resolution Process of Alberta Health Services, health professions and designated professional organizations. 

Reviewing investigation results and determining an appropriate course of action. If the Ombudsman’s investigation finds the individual has been treated unfairly, the Ombudsman reports their findings and the reasons to the appropriate Minister and to the department or other authority concerned or to the administrative head of the professional organization concerned and makes recommendations. 

Initiating an investigation entitled “own motion” without the need of a complaint when issues that are systemic in nature indicate potential administrative unfairness. 

Conducting investigations referred by a committee of the Legislative Assembly or by a Minister of the Crown. 

Engaging in a wide range of education and awareness activities to disseminate information about the role and services of the Alberta Ombudsman to Albertans and authorities through initiatives such as public presentations, events and meetings with individuals and groups. 


Public Interest Commissioner

  • Investigating complaints of wrongdoing (as defined in the Act) and reprisal from employees within the public sector, which includes:
    • Government of Alberta departments,
    • Agencies, boards and commissions,
    • The education sector – public and separate school boards, some private schools and charter schools,
    • The health sector – health authorities (Alberta Health Services) and subsidiary health corporations.
  • Thoroughly reviewing the investigation file, including the investigation results, in order to make a decision as to whether a wrongdoing or reprisal has occurred. The decision includes the reporting of findings and the reasons to the appropriate authority and making recommendations on possible resolution opportunities.
  • Providing information and advice to employees seeking information or seeking to disclose a wrongdoing.
  • Providing information and advice to jurisdictional public-sector entities concerning policies and procedure of reporting internally to the government entity.
  • Providing education and awareness, promoting the role of the Public Interest Commissioner through public presentations, events and meeting with individuals and groups.

Executive Management and Leadership

The Alberta Ombudsman and the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner have separate operations but share corporate services, IT and executive management.

The Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner has a leadership role in overseeing the effective and efficient performance of the two Offices as they execute their mandates.

  • Developing a strong team of professionals to foster a positive and respectful working environment.
  • Leading, coaching and mentoring an executive management team to achieve business plan goals.
  • Preserving the objectivity of the Alberta Ombudsman and the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner and maintaining public trust.
  • Setting the strategic direction for structures, systems, policies and processes that enable the Offices to implement high-quality programs and services.
  • Guiding policy and procedure development for prudent operation of the Offices, including governance, risk management, services to stakeholders and communication practices.
  • Overseeing fiscal and human resources to ensure effective management of resources in meeting business plan objectives.
  • Preparing a budget for the Alberta Ombudsman and Office of the Public Interest Commissioner for each upcoming fiscal year for presentation to the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices.
  • Acting as the primary spokesperson for both Offices.

The Alberta Ombudsman and the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner are separate entities but have offices co-located in Edmonton and Calgary that consist of management and administrative employees, corporate services members, investigators and legal counsel.

Together the Offices of the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner employ four investigative teams, corporate staff members, legal counsel and executive managers. The Offices maintain separate investigative operations.

In their role the Ombudsman provides leadership and guidance to a staff of 30 full-time equivalent positions within the Alberta Ombudsman Office. The Public Interest Commissioner leads six full-time equivalent positions in the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner.

The Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner is responsible for effective management of both budgets:

  • Ombudsman – operating budget of $4,019,000 (22/23)
  • Public Interest Commissioner – operating budget of $1,223,000 (22/23)

The Ombudsman and the Public Interest Commissioner meets with complainants, interest groups, the health community, the academic community and other individuals they feel can support complaint resolution.

In the course of an investigation or general discussion the Ombudsman consults with cabinet ministers, elected officials, senior officials in government departments, public service employees and professional bodies. The primary point of contact with the various authorities is generally at the Deputy Minister/Deputy Head level.

Contact is also maintained with the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices and other legislative offices.

Externally the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner meets with leaders of professional authorities, community leaders, members of the public, boards and commissions as well as the media.

The Ombudsman is a member of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), which connects public service Ombudsmen globally, as well as professional organizations such as the Canadian Council of Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman.

The Public Interest Commissioner communicates with other public interest disclosure offices across Canada in the promotion of Whistleblower Awareness Day and participates in a working group with other public-sector integrity offices across Canada to explore legal and operational issues.

The Lieutenant Governor in Council appoints the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner on the recommendation of the Assembly for a term not exceeding five (5) years with the possibility of reappointment. Under statutory requirements the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner may not be a Member of the Legislative Assembly. A select special committee reports on the search for the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner to the Legislative Assembly and recommends the appointment of the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner.

The position of Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner is classified within salary range A of the Senior Officials Salary Schedule for the public service of Alberta. This appointment offers a salary range of $213,476- $286,977 per annum, dependent on qualifications, as well as a comprehensive benefits package.

The demands of these Offices require attributes that go beyond a specific discipline or academic achievement. In addition to the knowledge, experience and skill requirements of the role, applicants will have the proven ability to apply a balanced, common-sense approach while using sound judgment and demonstrating fairness, patience and integrity. A progressive record of accomplishments, credibility in a related career, respect within the community, public service orientation and an understanding of the political context of this role are key. As this position reports to the Legislative Assembly as a whole, the individual must be nonpartisan and able to work independently.

Knowledge/Experience Requirements

  • A strong record of achievement at the executive level in public- or private-sector administration, overseeing significant fiscal and human resource operations
  • Experience in the application of the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness in reaching decisions
  • Strong knowledge of investigative methodologies and approaches
  • Significant experience resolving conflicts, ideally through facilitation, conciliation and dispute resolution processes
  • Experience in decision-making at a senior level related to sensitive and complex issues
  • Strategic orientation with the ability to position the Alberta Ombudsman and the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner to deal with emerging and long-term trends, issues and opportunities
  • Demonstrated success in guiding, managing and developing a professional workforce
  • Experience dealing with provincial or municipal governments and government agencies
  • Knowledge and understanding of the principles of access to information and the rights regarding the protection of privacy
  • Proven expertise in the interpretation and application of legislation, regulations and policies
  • Working knowledge of the parliamentary system, government functions and processes and the public sector

Skills and Abilities

  • Proven record of strong management skills in a complex environment
  • Exceptional verbal, listening, written and interpersonal skills, with a proven ability to effectively communicate with clients, stakeholders in the community, other jurisdictions as well as with people from diverse cultures and life experiences
  • Ability to direct investigations and reviews and make common-sense, reasonable recommendations
  • Ability to draw on informal resolution and/or medication skills to assess and ideally resolve complaints
  • Proven ability as a leader who models values to support a positive and inclusive work environment that enables employees to achieve results and to develop and build organizational capacity for the future
  • Excellent analytical and investigative skills
  • Strong critical and strategic thinking skills
  • Ability to lead, influence and negotiate innovative solutions to complex and diverse issues with a wide variety of stakeholders and balance the needs and interests of these diverse groups
  • Demonstrated decision-making abilities in a high consequence environment
  • Demonstrated ability to act with impartiality and perform duties in the absence of political bias

Education

  • A degree in a related discipline (such as law or public administration)

Upcoming Meeting Dates

There are currently no scheduled meetings.
2/1/2023 12:07 AM

Select Special Committees

The Assembly strikes select special committees for specific purposes. A government motion is moved outlining the membership of the special committee, its terms of reference and other details. When a select special committee releases its report, its work is complete and the committee is disbanded unless otherwise directed by the Assembly. 

Committee Clerk
3rd Floor, 9820 – 107 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5K 1E7
Call: 780.644.8621 Fax: 780.427.5688
OmbPICSearchCommittee.Admin@assembly.ab.ca

Meeting Minutes

Copies of approved meeting minutes can be accessed through the Legislature Library at librarysearch.assembly.ab.ca.

Legislature Library

Call: 780.427.2473 
library.requests@assembly.ab.ca

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