How Canada Can Address Harmful Speech Online
Released: Thursday November 8, 2018
Transparency, accountability, and fair administrative processes are hallmarks of effective governance systems. The Office of the Ontario Ombudsman ensures that provincial government and public sector bodies develop and observe these values in delivering their programs and services. In doing so, the Office aims to improve government practices and processes for all Ontario citizens.
In December 2014, the Ontario Legislature passed the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act. This bill doubled the size of the Ombudsman’s mandate, bringing under its purview Ontario’s 444 municipalities, 21 publicly funded universities, and 82 school boards and school authorities.
With just nine months between the time Bill 8 passed and when its first provisions came into effect, the Ombudsman’s Office moved quickly to launch a consultation process in order to build relationships with municipalities, universities, and school boards. The Office was allocated additional resources by the Legislative Assembly to handle the anticipated increased caseload, which it used to hire more staff with expertise in the new sectors. This also enabled the Office to conduct research, create new communications materials, and participate in relevant stakeholder conferences and speaking engagements around the province.
This report highlights elements of the 14-month consultation process the Ombudsman’s Office undertook in partnership with the Forum which targeted stakeholders from municipalities, school boards, and universities. It serves to mark the progress since the passage of Bill 8, to document the main messages that were shared, and to record the lessons learned as guidance for future engagements, communications and interactions between the Ombudsman’s Office and broader public sector bodies. The report also includes some information about the consultation process the Ombudsman’s Office undertook separately.