Toronto's alleged shortcoming was highlighted in Fiona Crean’s 2012 annual report, which offered a glimpse into all the complaints filed against city departments and staff.
According to Crean, 1,430 complaints were investigated by the ombudsman’s office — seven progressed into full investigations.
Toronto Municipal Licensing Standards, Revenue Services and Toronto Community Housing received the bulk of the complaints and the majority of the issues revolved around communication processes, said Crean.
“The communications issue is a huge problem. That really does need addressing,” Crean told a news conference. “There is no reason to not be able to get back to residents, to explain promptly, properly and fully what it is that’s going on.”
The ombudsman went on to say that she is also experiencing some of these communication issues with her own dealings with City Hall staff.
She said her roll is still not fully understood by some and that she has run into some “pockets of resistance” in her independent inquiries. She did not name specifically to whom she was referring.
The ombudsman’s office has been the focal point of public debate since it suggested that Mayor Rob Ford’s office had interfered with several public appointments.
Allies of the mayor suggested that the report was politically motivated.
“The challenge of protecting ombudsman independence will never go away. It will pop up for my successor, just as it has for me this year,” Crean’s report said.
“Every time there is a controversial investigation, the independence of the ombudsman is likely to be attacked. The context will be different, but not the underlying disagreement.”