Frequently Asked Questions

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.
We are:

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.

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.

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
  • MLAs
  • The Legislative Assembly and Executive Council
  • Courts
  • Police
  • Private businesses and individuals

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.

You can make a complaint to the Ombud by phone, letter, fax, email, or using the complaint form on our website.

You can find more information about how to make a complaint here.

  • 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.

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.

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
  • Apology
  • Refund
  • Changes to improve policies and procedures for everyone
  • We may find the organization acted fairly and nothing more needs to be done

No. The Ombud makes recommendations to government organizations, and can make public reports on those recommendations. The Ombud cannot enforce recommendations or overturn decisions.

By phone: 1-844-686-6283 (toll-free) or 874-6623 (in Hay River)

By email:

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.