Advisory Committee of the Ombudsperson

Role

The Advisory Committee of the Ombudsperson provides support to the Ombudsperson in his or her functions by counselling the Ombudsperson on the grounds for systemic inquiries, in keeping with clause 5.3 of the Committee’s Terms of Reference, by recommending the budget for the Office of the Ombudsperson and by ensuring that the Ombudsperson’s report is distributed at large to the University Community. It is also charged with rendering a decision on complaints made against the Ombudsperson, evaluating the work of the Ombudsperson, forming a Selection Committee in order to appoint the Ombudsperson and proposing the termination of the individual who holds the title of Ombudsperson of the University of Ottawa 

Terms of Reference

In the present Terms of Reference:

"Advisory Committee" means the Ombudsperson Advisory Committee created pursuant to section 11 of the present Terms of Reference.

"Ombudsperson" means the Ombudsperson and the staff working for the Ombudsperson, unless the context indicates otherwise.

"University Community" means staff, students, post-doctoral fellows, affiliated researchers, professors and administrators at the University of Ottawa.

"University" means the University of Ottawa.

"Student Unions" means the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa and the Graduate Students' Association of the University of Ottawa.

The mandate of the Ombudsperson is to provide an independent, impartial and confidential process through which members of the University Community may pursue the just, fair and equitable resolution of University-related concerns.  In addition, the Ombudsperson may make recommendations, where appropriate, for changes in policies and procedures and promote discussion on institution-wide concerns.

Approved by Senate on May 4, 2009
Approved by the Board of Governors on May 25, 2009

  1. Definitions
  2. Principles
    • 2.1. The Ombudsperson shall be independent of all existing University and student administrative structures.
    • 2.2. The Ombudsperson shall act in a confidential, fair and impartial manner and provide recommendations and advice to members of the University Community to resolve concerns in an informal, effective and accessible manner.
    • 2.3. The present Terms of Reference shall be interpreted in accordance with these principles.
  3. Mandate
  4. Jurisdiction
    • 4.1. The Ombudsperson may receive University-related inquiries or complaints from any present or past member of the University Community.  The Ombudsperson shall not receive complaints from any person (for example, a parent or friend) on behalf of a present or past member of the University Community.
    • 4.2. The Ombudsperson shall not undertake an investigation until all established channels of assistance or appeal have been exhausted, unless exhausting the established channels of assistance or appeal would impose an undue burden on the complainant. The Ombudsperson may provide counsel to members of the University Community in identifying the process to be followed.
    • 4.3. The Ombudsperson shall not interfere, directly or indirectly, in any matter covered by an existing collective agreement. 
    • 4.4. The Ombudsperson may refuse or discontinue an intervention in any matter which is considered frivolous, vexatious, not brought in good faith, or an abuse of the Ombudsperson's functions; or if the matter is already the subject-matter of a legal proceeding.
    • 4.5. If the Ombudsperson refuses or discontinues an intervention, written reasons explaining the refusal or discontinuation shall be provided to the complainant.
    • 4.6. The Ombudsperson's decisions to intervene or not, and his or her recommendations, shall be final and without appeal.
    • 4.7. The Ombudsperson shall not intervene in cases where she or he may be in a conflict of interest. In such cases, the Advisory Committee may appoint another person to act temporarily as Ombudsperson.  
  5. Powers
    • 5.1. The Ombudsperson shall have the power to investigate any University-related complaint. All investigations shall be carried out in a fair manner and allow all persons implicated to respond to allegations made against them. The Ombudsperson may decide which modes of intervention, as defined in section 6, are the most appropriate in the circumstances.
    • 5.2. The Ombudsperson shall have access, subject to applicable laws and policies relating to confidentiality and protection of privacy, to all files, records, reports, documents and information needed to fulfil the functions of the Ombudsperson.

      Requests by the Ombudsperson for information shall be handled in a mutually convenient and expeditious manner by all members of the University community.
    • 5.3. The Ombudsperson may, without receiving a complaint and after consultation with the Advisory Committee, identify and investigate inadequacies in existing procedures and policies that might jeopardize the rights of members of the University Community.  The Ombudsperson may also make recommendations and bring them to the attention of the appropriate persons.
  6. Modes of Intervention
    • 6.1. The choice of mode of intervention is at the discretion of the Ombudsperson and may include:
      • 6.1.1.1. facilitating communication between the parties;
      • 6.1.1.2. facilitating a meeting between the parties;
      • 6.1.1.3. reviewing any relevant University record;
      • 6.1.1.4. making informal inquiries into a matter;
      • 6.1.1.5. meeting directly with the parties, jointly or separately;
      • 6.1.1.6. engaging in shuttle diplomacy;
      • 6.1.1.7. mediating a dispute;
      • 6.1.1.8. offering recommendations for a fair resolution.
    • 6.2. The Ombudsperson shall also serve as a resource for the members of the University Community by providing information on policies and procedures, rights and responsibilities, and general guidance on where and to whom complaints and inquiries are properly directed.
    • 6.3. The Ombudsperson may choose to make written recommendations to appropriate persons regarding a complaint.
    • 6.4. The Ombudsperson may, at any time, draw to the attention of appropriate persons policies, rules or procedures that appear unclear, inequitable or unfair.
  7. Confidentiality
    • 7.1. All dealings with the Ombudsperson shall be confidential and may only be revealed with the written consent of the complainant, or as otherwise required by law.
    • 7.2. The Ombudsperson shall maintain suitable records of inquiries and complaints in compliance with applicable laws.
    • 7.3. The files of the Ombudsperson shall be for the exclusive use of the Ombudsperson and shall not be released to anyone else for any purpose, unless compelled by law.
    • 7.4. The Ombudsperson shall not be required to maintain confidentiality in cases involving the commission of a serious crime or where there is an imminent risk of physical harm or abuse.
  8. Accountability
    • 8.1. The Ombudsperson shall submit an annual report to the University Community, and in particular to the Senate of the University, the Board of Governors of the University and the Student Unions. The Ombudsperson shall make the report public via the Ombudsperson's website.
    • 8.2. The report shall detail the activities of the Ombudsperson, including statistics on all complaints received, and shall make recommendations, as necessary. 
    • 8.3. The Advisory Committee shall conduct an annual evaluation of the Ombudsperson.
    • 8.4. If a member of the University Community believes that the Ombudsperson has violated the present Terms of Reference, he or she may submit a written complaint, detailing the alleged violation to the President of the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee shall investigate the allegation and may appoint a person to conduct this investigation. The Advisory Committee shall inform the complainant of the result of the investigation.
  9. General
    • 9.1. All members of the University Community shall have the right to seek the assistance of the Ombudsperson without reprisal or threat of reprisal from any other University Community member.
  10.  Appointment
    • 10.1. The Advisory Committee shall select the person who will occupy the position of Ombudsperson.
    • 10.2. An Ombudsperson's initial appointment shall be for a term of two years, renewable for further terms of five years. The Ombudsperson shall be provided with adequate administrative resources.
    • 10.3. The University and the Student Unions shall share the costs of the operations of the Ombudsperson.  The University shall contribute 50% of these costs.
  11.  The Advisory Committee
    • 11.1. The Advisory Committee shall have the following responsibilities :
      • 11.1.1 To select the person who shall hold the title of Ombudsperson of the University of Ottawa.
      • 11.1.2 To provide advice to the Ombudsperson, including on the need for a systemic inquiry pursuant to section 5.3.
      • 11.1.3 To recommend the budget of the Ombudsperson.
      • 11.1.4 To ensure the wide distribution of the Ombudsperson's annual report.
      • 11.1.5 To respond to complaints relating to the work of the Ombudsperson.
      • 11.1.6 To evaluate the performance of the Ombudsperson.
      • 11.1.7 To propose the termination of the person who holds the title of Ombudsperson of the University of Ottawa.
    • 11.2. The Advisory Committee shall respect the confidentiality of the Ombudsperson's files and shall not have access to information that could identify an individual complainant.
    • 11.3. The Advisory Committee shall be composed of eight members :
      • 11.3.1 Four members shall be designated by the University, including at least one regular full time member of staff and one full time professor.
      • 11.3.2 Four members shall be designated by the Student Unions, including at least one full time graduate student and one full time undergraduate student.
      • 11.3.3 The appointment of members designated by the Student Unions shall be for one year renewable.
      • 11.3.4 The appointment of members designated by the University shall be for two years renewable.
      • 11.3.5 The Ombudsperson shall not be a member of the Advisory Committee but may attend meetings of the Advisory Committee, except where the Committee is discussing matters pursuant to sections 11.1.5, 11.1.6 and 11.1.7.
      • 11.3.6 The Advisory Committee shall meet at least three times per year.
      • 11.3.7 Four members of the Advisory Committee shall constitute a quorum, including two representatives of the University and two students (one full time graduate student and one full time undergraduate student
    • 11.4. Members of the Advisory Committee shall vote on motions that are properly submitted to it in accordance with the following rules:
      • 11.4.1 In cases of tied votes, the motion is defeated.
      • 11.4.2 A proposal to terminate the person who holds the title of Ombudsperson of the University of Ottawa shall be approved by two thirds of the members of the Advisory Committee.
    • 11.5. The President of the Advisory Committee shall be elected by and from among the members of the Advisory Committee.
    • 11.6. If the Ombudsperson intervenes in a matter involving one of the members of the Advisory Committee, that member shall temporarily withdraw from the Advisory Committee.  A temporary member of the Advisory Committee from the same category (designated by the Student Unions or by the University pursuant to section 11.3) shall then be appointed.

Approved by Senate on May 4, 2009
Approved by the Board of Governors on May 25, 2009

 

Members

Alison Flynn 
Professor
End of Term: 2017-12-15

Axel Gaga
Undergraduate Student
End of Term: 2018-04-30

Robert Head 
Graduate Student
End of Term: 2018-04-30

Pascasie Minani 
Graduate Student
End of Term: 2018-04-30

Catherine Paquet
Support Staff
End of Term: 2018-03-11

Ricki Rachiq
Undergraduate Student
End of Term: 2018-04-30

Véronic Tardif
Support Staff
End of Term: 2018-03-11

Joel Westheimer
Professor
End of Term: 2019-08-18

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