The Québec Ombudsman's 2021-2022 Annual Report – Recovering together from the setbacks of the pandemic

QUÉBEC CITY, Dec. 1, 2022 /CNW/ – Today, Québec Ombudsman Marc-André Dowd tabled his 2021-2022 Annual Report in the National Assembly. Emphasizing the ever-present impact of COVID-19 in Québec, he insisted on the pandemic-related challenges to public services since March 2020: distance communication, technological innovation, staff shortages, and greater needs by a population grappling with the virus.

As the Québec Ombudsman sees it, the huge task of adapting to the fallout from COVID-19 must be an opportunity for public services to be creative and refocus on the needs of people, notably the most vulnerable ones.

“We’ve seen it happen—when everyone’s safety is threatened by an unforeseen virus and action must be immediate, the required energy and resources are mobilized,” said Mr. Dowd. “I’m calling on this agility to recast and permanently enrich the slate of services.”

A worrisome past year

In addition to addressing a context severely affected by COVID-19, the Québec Ombudsman’s 2021-2022 Annual Report also zeroes in on major shortcomings within some public services. Here are but a few examples of numerous worrisome cases:

  • Services to people with mental health disorders, disabilities or special needs are sorely lacking, even though there are policies that supposedly guarantee access to these services.
  • The Direction générale de l’indemnisation des victimes d’actes criminels (DGIVAC) applies its requirements for awarding compensation restrictively, denying certain victims crucial support.
  • The CNESST told a First Nations person that the workplace harassment they felt targeted by because of their origins was nothing more than acceptable jokes. After the Québec Ombudsman investigated, the decision was changed.
  • Due to a lack of residences, some CISSSs and CIUSSSs are loath to sanction operators of residential resources for the elderly.
Technology and communication: don’t leave anyone behind

Since March 2020, digital technology has enabled public services, which integrated protective measures against COVID-19, to interact virtually with their client populations. However, the Québec Ombudsman has a word of warning—for many people, using the Web is practically impossible given their age, health, or socioeconomic condition. For these people, the digital revolution may increase the ever-widening gap between their needs and the services to which they have access.

“Above and beyond technical changes, government must put people at the heart of its actions and decisions,” said Marc-André Dowd in closing.

2021-2022 in a few figures
  • 22,669 grounds for requests handled
  • 48,481 phone calls received
  • 12,765 grounds for complaints, reports and disclosures handled
  • Interventions concerning:
    • 56 government departments and agencies
    • 132 health and social services network institutions and facilities
    • The 18 correctional facilities that report to the Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec and to the Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles

The Québec Ombudsman acts impartially and independently in ensuring that the rights of people are upheld in their dealings with public services. Its services are free and user-friendly.

See the Highlights of the Québec Ombudsman’s 2021-2022 Annual Report in the Annual Reports section of our website.

SOURCE Protecteur du citoyen

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