- What is the Office of the Ombud?
- What is administrative fairness?
- Which public bodies can you investigate?
- What do I do if I have a concern with a government organization?
- How can I make a complaint?
- Do I have to give my name to make a complaint?
- What happens when we accept a complaint?
- Can the Ombud refuse to look into my complaint?
- What can happen as a result of a complaint?
- Can the Ombud force a government organization to take action or make a change?
- How can I contact the Office of the Ombud?
What is the Office of the Ombud?
We are an independent office that speaks up for fairness in territorial government administration and services. We listen to and investigate complaints from people who feel they have been treated unfairly by territorial organizations. We work to find fair solutions and to help improve government services.
Independent. The Ombud is appointed by the Legislative Assembly, but our work is independent of the government and politicians.
Impartial. We do not take sides. We do not advocate for people who make complaints or for the government. We are a voice for fairness.
An office of last resort. You should try to address your concerns directly with the government organization using any available complaint, review or appeals processes before sending a complaint to our office. If you are not sure what processes exist, you can contact us for help.
Our services are confidential and free of charge.
What is administrative fairness?
Every day, government organizations take actions and make decisions that affect people’s lives. Administrative fairness is the standard of conduct that government organizations in a democratic society owe to people.
Government organizations must treat people fairly and reasonably. For example, they need to follow rules, provide clear information about processes and decisions, and treat people with honesty and respect.
Fairness is not always simple. Context is important in deciding whether something is fair. Fairness does not mean that the government has to agree to every request, or treat everyone exactly the same.
You can find more information about administrative fairness here.
Which public bodies can you investigate?
The office of the Northwest Territories Ombud can investigate the following public bodies:
- GNWT departments
- Education councils and authorities
- Health and social services boards of management and authorities
- Aurora College
- Inuvialuit Water Board
- Legal Aid Commission
- Liquor Commission and Liquor Licencing Board
- NWT Business Development and Investment Corporation
- NWT Housing Corporation and housing authorities
- NWT Hydro Corporation
- NWT Power Corporation
- Status of Women Council of the NWT
- Surface Rights Board
- Tłįchǫ Community Services Agency
- Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission
We cannot investigate the following public or private bodies:
- Federal government departments or agencies
- Indigenous governments
- Municipal governments
- The Legislative Assembly and Executive Council
- Private businesses and individuals
What do I do if I have a concern with a government organization?
If you think you have been treated unfairly by a territorial government organization, contact a staff member or the manager and try to work it out. Find out if there is a complaints, review or appeal process and if there is, try it. If that doesn’t work out, contact our office. We may be able to help.
Tips for resolving concerns
- Get the names of the people you are dealing with
- Keep track of responses and documents you receive, including dates
- Keep copies of papers, letters, emails, and other communication
- Ask how and why an action was taken or a decision was made
You can find more tips for solving problems with government organizations here.
How can I make a complaint?
You can find more information about how to make a complaint here.
Do I have to give my name to make a complaint?
You do not have to give your name if you just want to get information. If you decide to make a complaint, we will need your name and other information to be able to help you. All complaint information is kept strictly confidential, and we will not identify you without your consent.
What happens when we accept a complaint?
- We will first try to resolve the matter informally by working directly with you and the government organization
- If the matter cannot be resolved informally, we may investigate, issue a report, and when appropriate, make recommendations to resolve the complaint or prevent the same problem from happening again
You can find more information about the complaints process here.
Can the Ombud refuse to look into my complaint?
Yes. The Ombud can decide not to look into a complaint based on a number of factors. If this happens in your case we will explain why.
What can happen as a result of a complaint?
There are many possible outcomes to a complaint. Here are some of them:
- Better working relationship between you and the government organization
- Better explanation for a decision
- Reconsideration of a decision
- Changes to improve policies and procedures for everyone
- We may find the organization acted fairly and nothing more needs to be done
Can the Ombud force a government organization to take action or make a change?
No. The Ombud makes recommendations to government organizations, and can make public reports on those recommendations. The Ombud cannot enforce recommendations or overturn decisions.
How can I contact the Office of the Ombud?
By phone: 1-844-686-6283 (toll-free) or 874-6623 (in Hay River)
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By fax: 1-867-874-6250
By mail: PO Box 4297, Hay River NT X0E 1G5
If you have more questions for the Office of the Ombud, please use one of the above methods of contact.