Who can use the Ombudsperson?
The Ombudsperson offers her services to the entire University community, including:
- students at all levels of study;
- candidates for admission;
- graduates and alumni;
- professors and fellows;
- affiliated researchers; administrators, employees and support staff.
Requests for services and complaints must be made by the individuals themselves and not by friends, parents or third parties.
What is an Ombudsperson?
- The Ombudsperson is an impartial service, independent of all existing University and student administrative structures.
- Acts fairly and impartially with complete confidentiality.
- Is a free, bilingual service.
When can you use the Ombudsperson?
- When you feel your rights have not been respected.
- When you feel you have been treated unfairly.
- When you believe you are the victim of an injustice.
- When you are seeking information or advice on any matter within the Ombudsperson’s jurisdiction.
- When you need information or advice on existing channels of appeal.
- When you want to make a complaint after exhausting the established normal channels of appeal.
What types of issues can commonly be brought to the Ombudsperson?
- Academic supervision;
- Application of rules of discipline;
- Financial problems (bursaries, financial aid);
- Interpersonal problems with colleagues or bosses (except for articles of collective agreements);
- Academic issues;
- Questions related to academic rules (refusal of admission, exclusion from a program, recognition of prior knowledge);
- Human rights.
What can the Ombudsperson do?
- The Ombudsperson serves as a source of information on policies, procedures, rules and standards. The Office of the Ombudsperson is the best place to go if you do not know what your recourse is, how to proceed or to whom to talk to get help. She refers members of the community to the appropriate services.
- The Ombudsperson helps identify and assess options for managing a conflict. She listens to the parties, with complete confidentiality, and tries to clarify the nature of the problem. She can make informal requests for information in order to complete her analysis of the facts. The Ombudsperson acts as a facilitator and mediator, if appropriate, and explores the options available to the complainant.
- Once all channels of appeal have been exhausted, the Ombudsperson has the right to examine a complaint. She can then access all files, records, reports and information required to carry out her duties. She can also make written recommendations to the appropriate persons.
- The Ombudsperson can recommend changes to rules and policies and the harmonization and simplification of procedures to make systems more effective. In most cases, these recommendations are presented to University authorities and the community in the Ombudsperson’s annual report.
What are the restrictions on the Ombudsperson’s ability to act?
- The Ombudsperson may not formally investigate a complaint until the complainant has exhausted all channels of assistance or appeal available to him.
- The Ombudsperson may not reverse decisions made by an administrative entity in compliance with existing rules and regulations.
- The Ombudsperson may not intervene in any way in situations covered by a valid collective agreement.
What measures are taken to protect confidentiality?
Any discussion with the Office of the Ombudsperson, including the simple fact of having contacted the Ombudsperson, is considered confidential information. Neither senior University authorities nor student unions may access this information or the files held by the Ombudsperson.
Disclosure may only occur with your written consent.
However, the Ombudsperson is required to respect the law, and must disclose information contained in her files when compelled by law. In addition, the Ombudsperson is not required to maintain confidentiality if she has reason to believe that the life or safety of a person or persons may be at risk, or that a serious crime has been or may be committed, and must by law provide the appropriate authorities with the information required.
Does the Ombudsperson have to issue reports?
The Ombudsperson prepares and issues an annual report that is made public for the entire University community on its website. See the Mandate section for further information.
Can someone submit a complaint to the Ombudsperson on my behalf?
No. Requests for services and complaints must be made by the individuals themselves and not by friends, parents or third parties.
Does it cost anything to complain to the Ombudsperson?
No. The Office of the Ombudsperson does not charge a fee for its services.
How is the Office of the Ombudsperson financed?
The Office of the Ombudsperson is financed by SFUO, the University of Ottawa and GSAÉD. It functions independently from the administrative structures of the University and student government. For more information, see the Terms of Reference.