Program 2022

Platinum Sponsor


Check back frequently for updates. All times are EST (Ottawa) time.

Tuesday, October 18 
08:00 - 08:45Registration and Breakfast
08:45 - 09:00Welcome and Opening Remarks
09:00 - 10:00OPENING KEYNOTE
Obstetric Violence: Confronting Medical Colonialism in Canada
Alisa Lombard, Lombard Law
Dr. Samir Shaheen-Hussain, author of the award-winning book, Fighting for a Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada

An exploration of anti-Indigenous systemic racism in Canadian health care, the medical violence associated with the practice of coerced and forced sterilizations inflicted upon Indigenous women and girls, and the medical establishment’s role in colonial genocide.
10:00 - 10:45Networking Break
10:45 - 11:40Let's Stop Saying We're "Neutral"
Shirley Nakata, Ombudsperson for Students, University of British Columbia

“Impartial” and “neutral” are often used interchangeably when describing one of the pillar characteristics of Ombuds practice. Historically, neutrality has been a laudable and aspirational state of being for mediators, judges, and Ombuds. But can we ever be “neutral”? And if we could, should we? This session will review case law and important societal shifts in Canada to make the case that as Ombuds, we stop saying we’re “neutral”.
11:45 - 12:30Lunch
12:30 - 13:25KEYNOTE
The Ombudsman as the “Honest Broker”
Gerard Étienne, Senior Associate, DiversiPro

The past two years have seen a social justice reckoning fueled by increasing demand of employees for their respective organizations to truly be Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible and Anti-racist (IDEA). At the same time, these same organizations are facing a trust deficit in every institution, including those that have as a mandate to bridge the gaps between employees’ aspirations and organizational cultures. The Ombuds role has not been tainted by a legacy history of underperforming gate keepers. I believe, Ombudsman can help bridge that gap. Let me make my case.
13:30 - 14:25

Session 1

Strategies to Encourage Implementation of Ombud Recommendations
Nishika Jardine, Veterans Ombudsman
Sarah P. Bradley, Ombudsman and CEO, OBSI
Alexander Jeglic, Procurement Ombudsman
Ciarán Buggle, Deputy Ombudsman, City of Toronto

Presenters from a variety of ombuds sectors will discuss the strategies employed to encourage adoption and implementation of Ombud’s recommendations including: engaging with the media; engaging with legislators; providing complainants with detailed reports on investigations; nature of the recommendations (legislative, policy, administrative etc.); how to engage with the body in respect of which the Ombud office exercises jurisdiction; and other suggestions to promote accountability.
Session 2Student Ombudsperson and Student Representation: What Cooperation is Possible?
Anna-Katharina Rothwangl, Provisional Student Ombudsman, Austrian Student Ombuds Office
Jorge Pereira, Student Ombudsman, University of Beira Interior

This session will provide an overview of the higher education student ombudsperson systems of Portugal and Austria. In both countries, student mediators are anchored in the law. The speakers will review the differences and strengths of their respective offices, legal status, electoral modes and how the cooperation between student representatives and student ombudspersons ensures a quality of service.
Session 3Courage, Compassion, Clarity: Lessons Learned During the Pandemic
Michelle Rossi, Executive Director, Patient Ombudsman

The session will provide a look back on the pandemic experience, exploring how the work of the Patient Ombudsman office changed and evolved with the effects of the pandemic on the health system, how we pivoted our operations to remote work, the impact of the pandemic on the type and volume of complaints received, as well as on the well-being of our staff. The pandemic brought about Patient Ombudsman’s first own motion systemic investigation, as well as a backlog of a volume never experienced before by the office. This session will also speak to how the office adapted after the peak of the pandemic, how the backlog of complaints was managed and how the experience has informed changes to our processes and thoughts on performance measurement.

Session sponsor:
14:30 - 15:00Networking Break
15:00 - 15:55How Can Ombuds Contribute to Reconciliation?
Jay Chalke, Ombudsperson of British Columbia
Paul Dubé, Ombudsman of Ontario

Two provincial Ombuds share their strategies for building relationships and organizational capacity to enable impactful intervention on issues that effect Indigenous people and groups with a view to promoting reconciliation.

Many noted, and notable Ombuds have pointed to the ubiquitous and understandable mistrust Indigenous people have for government-like institutions. This presentation will provide a comprehensive overview of the initiatives by the British Columbia and Ontario Ombuds to address these issues. Conference participants will be invited to share their knowledge, perspectives, and geopolitical considerations regarding how the Pathfinders Initiative could be adapted in their respective jurisdictions. The speakers will provide examples of how their efforts are designed to raise awareness, build trust and facilitate making complaints about public bodies to Ombuds offices.
16:00 - 16:55

Session 1

Benchmarking Study: Ombudsman Sector
Jean-Marc Nantais, Ombudsman, Canada Post

In 2021 and 2022, the Ombudsman Office of Canada Post completed a benchmarking study on the ombudsman sector in order to identify areas of opportunities. We looked at 12 aspects of an ombudsman office and identified seven where the offices are quite similar and five where they are different. This presentation will provide a high-level overview of all 12 areas, going into greater detail on the five that differed the most from office to office.
Session 2Can we? Should we? How do we? Engaging in EDI Work as an Academic Ombuds
Julie Boncompain, Ombudsman, Polytechnique de Montreal
Brent Epperson, Ombudsman, University of Luxembourg
Heather McGhee Peggs, Manager, Complaint Services, Patient Ombudsman

How might a university / college ombudsperson respond to an equity concern brought to the ombuds office? What are some of the opportunities and challenges of an ombuds engaging in equity work? As a ‘one stop shop’ for addressing individual and systemic issues and living up to institution-wide commitments to EDI, the ombuds office is dedicated to complaint management. Using a real-to-life case study about student / faculty conflict brought to a university ombuds, we will ask participants to consider the value that an administrative fairness lens can bring to EDI complaints.
Session 3Inclusive Investigative Report Writing
Laura Pettigrew, General Counsel, Ombudsman Ontario
Diana Cooke, Director, Children & Youth Unit, Ombudsman Ontario

The presenters will discuss their experience with incorporating inclusive language in investigative report writing. Participants are encouraged to share their own practices and suggestions with the group.
17:00 - 18:30Welcome Reception
18:30Free Time (Join a group dinner)
Wednesday, October 19 
07:30 - 08:20Breakfast
08:20 - 09:25KEYNOTE
Indigenous Reconciliation: Challenges and Opportunities
Mike DeGagné, President and CEO, Indspire

This session will highlight reconciliation and the way forward including a brief look at reconciliation history, the challenges, and opportunities to address systemic change as we progress together.
09:30 - 10:25

Session 1

Administrative Law Updates and Best Practices for Procedural Fairness
Maureen Helt, Ombudsperson, Toronto Metropolitan University, Lavonne Hood, University Ombudsperson, Queen’s University and Shirley Nakata, Ombudsperson for Students, University of British Columbia

The Panel will be discussing administrative law updates regarding issues that Ombuds deal with on a daily basis; bias and apprehension of bias in investigations and decision-making, the sufficiency of reasons, the right to reply, investigations and the rules of natural justice, and delay. In addition, we hope to engage the audience in a dynamic conversation to learn from each other about best practices in relation to procedural fairness issues and how they apply to our respective stakeholders and our ombuds work.
Session 2Ombuds Responsibility to Incorporate Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
Alexander Jeglic, Procurement Ombudsman and Shirley Nguyen, Mediator and Adjudicator

Through the personal and professional perspective of ADR practitioners, this session aims to foster discussion with the audience on the responsibility of Ombuds to incorporate Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) into external and internal practices in the workplace, and more specifically within Ombuds and ADR practices. In this session, we will explore the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion challenges and experiences within the realm of ADR practices as well as discuss examples of initiatives that have been incorporated into the daily activities of the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO).
Session 3Elevated Expectations: The New Ombuds Reality?
Jack Nagler, CBC Ombudsman
Natalie Sharpe, Director, Office of the Student Ombuds, University of Alberta
Alexandre St-Jean, Ombuds, Shared Services Canada

The panel will explore whether there has been a rise in complainants who have unrealistic expectations of institutions, including of Ombuds offices, and who exhibit behaviours that violate social norms. The panel will consider how changes in demographics have affected the expectations of complainant groups and the ways in which the notion of “civility” has been used to repress dissent. The panel will discuss strategies Ombuds offices can use to respond to these challenges effectively.
10:30 - 11:00Networking Break

Break offered by

11:00 - 11:55Increasing Awareness through Targeted Outreach Initiatives – An Ombudsman Toronto Case Study
Kwame Addo, Ombudsman, City of Toronto

In 2021, Ombudsman Toronto set out to begin building meaningful relationships with equity-deserving groups and people who face increased barriers to accessing our services through targeted outreach and engagement. Recognizing that these groups are less likely to access our services for a number of reasons, including possible distrust of institutions, reaching them requires an individualized approach. In this presentation, Ombudsman Addo will present his office's approach to engaging with these communities. The presentation's case study will provide tangible examples and recommendations that participants can apply to their own engagement strategies.
12:00 - 12:45Lunch
12:45 - 13:40Investigation Into Laurentian University’s Cuts to French-language Programming
Kelly Burke, French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario

Ontario's French Language Services Commissioner, Kelly Burke, will present the highlights of her recent investigation into Laurentian University's cuts to French-language programs during its financial restructuring process. The investigation - the first conducted by the French Language Services Unit of the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario - revealed that the university and two Ontario ministries neglected their responsibilities under the French Language Services Act, and the cuts left many students with no way to complete their studies in French. Commissioner Burke will also explain her approach, which led to all her recommendations being accepted by all parties.
13:40 - 13:55Networking Break
13:55 - 14:50Ombuds Start Up or Upstart – Reflections on Setting Up a New Provincial Ombuds Office
Sandy Hermiston, Ombudsperson, PEI, and Craig Thompson, Patient Ombudsman

Sandy Hermiston and Craig Thompson will explore what it means to be a ‘new ombuds on the block’ by sharing their experiences establishing new ombuds offices in PEI and Ontario. You’ll hear how starting a new office offers opportunities to be creative; unencumbered by past practice. That articulating a clear value proposition to your stakeholders is something you need to do from day one. And that opening a new office is a bit like ‘flying a plane while building it’ requiring you to quickly build the infrastructure and team so that you can fully exercise your mandate.

Session sponsor:
14:55 - 16:00The Future of Ombudsing In Canada and Wrap-up
Kwame Addo, Ombudsman, City of Toronto
Julie Boncompain, Ombudsman, Polytechnique de Montreal
Stephanie Pasha, Mediator/Investigator, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
Howard Sapers, Consultant

Moderator: Nadine Mailloux, FCO President

Platinum Sponsor

Session Sponsor

Break offered by

Forum of Canadian Ombudsman