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About Us

What We Do

The Office of the Citizens’ Representative provides a province-wide ombudsman service. It was opened in 2002 and is an independent office of the House of Assembly.

The primary work of the Citizens’ Representative is to accept complaints from citizens who feel they have been treated unfairly with respect to their contact with government offices and agencies. The Citizens’ Representative and his staff will attempt to mediate citizens’ complaints and if this is not possible, will undertake an impartial and unbiased investigation. If the complaint cannot be resolved throughout the investigation, an investigation report is generated and recommendations can be made to the House of Assembly.

The Office of the Citizens’ Representative can also undertake complaints that study how governmental policies, procedures, and actions can affect a large number of people. These are called systemic complaints and can result in recommendations that have a much broader impact than those flowing from individual complaints.

Who We Can Investigate

The Citizens’ Representative has the authority to investigate complaints from individuals who believe they have been treated unfairly by provincial public employees or officials. The Office cannot investigate:

  1. the House of Assembly or a committee thereof;
  2. the Cabinet;
  3. the Executive Council or a committee thereof;
  4. a court, judge or a justice of the peace;
  5. an arbitrator appointed under the Arbitration Act;
  6. any decision where the citizen has a right to appeal to a court or tribunal but has not yet done so or the time for doing so has not expired;
  7. a decision by the Access to Information Commissioner;
  8. a problem that the Child and Youth Advocate has the power to deal with.

It is important to note that the Citizens’ Representative cannot deal with complaints of unfairness that may arise from a citizen’s dealings with the federal or municipal governments. As well the actions of private companies, agencies and individuals are beyond a review by this Office.

The Citizens’ Representative can investigate complaints of unfairness filed against the following provincial government departments and agencies:

Provincial Government Departments

  • Advanced Education, Skills and Labour
  • Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
  • Children, Seniors and Social Development
  • Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Municipal Affairs and Environment
  • Finance
  • Fisheries and Land Resources
  • Health and Community Services
  • Justice and Public Safety
  • Natural Resources
  • Service NL
  • Transportation and Works

Boards/Authorities and Agencies

  • Newfoundland and Labrador English School Board
  • Conseil Scolaire Francophone
  • College of the North Atlantic
  • Human Rights Commission
  • Labour Relations Board
  • Legal Aid Commission
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Multi-Materials Stewardship Board
  • Municipal Assessment Agency
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation
  • Newfoundland Liquor Corporation
  • Public Service Commission
  • Public Utilities Board
  • RNC Police Complaints Commission
  • Workers’ Compensation Review Division
  • Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission

Miscellaneous Agencies

  • The Agricultural Products Marketing Board
  • Business Investment Corporation
  • The C.A. Pippy Park Commission
  • The Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation
  • Criminal Code Mental Disorder Review Board (section 672.38 Criminal Code)
  • The Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Day Care and Homemaking Services Licensing Board
  • Edge Corporation Evaluation Board
  • The Egg Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation
  • Insurance Adjusters, Agents and Brokers Appeal Board
  • Mental Health Care and Treatment Review Board
  • An adjudicator appointed under section 67 of the Labour Standards Act
  • Livestock Owners Compensation Board
  • Mineral Rights Adjudication Board
  • Mining Tax Review Board
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Chicken Marketing Board
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Crop Insurance Agency
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Industrial Development Corporation
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Licensing Board
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Financing Corporation
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Education Investment Corporation
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Geographical Names Board
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Student Investment and Opportunity Corporation
  • The Private Training Corporation
  • Provincial Apprenticeship Board
  • The Provincial Information and Library Resources Board
  • An appeal board appointed under the Income and Employment Support Act Timber Scalers Board
  • An appeal board established under section 40 of the Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000
  • A corporation, the ownership of which, or a majority of the shares of which is vested in the Crown
  • A corporation, commission or board where the majority of the members, or the majority of
  • the members of the board of directors, are appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council
  • A board, commission or other body added to this Schedule by order of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council

Examples of Our Work

Advanced Education and Skills

The Department of Advanced Education and Skills (AES) works with local transportation companies to assist clients who require transportation to approved medical appointments. A taxi owner who contacted us reporting unfair and unreasonable delays for reimbursement of his fares. We investigated and undertook a detailed review of the services rendered and payments received, together with interviews of public servants with knowledge of the system and the individual file. We reported our findings and, following a period of review and consideration by AES, he received a payment of $11,119.20.

Department of Environment and Conservation

For fifteen years, a man had been leasing crown land in cabin country. He was given an opportunity to apply for a grant by the Department of Environment and Conservation and did so, only to find that he required an approved septic design from the Department of Government Services. Given the location of the cabin on his lot, and the percolation rate of the soil, the only place to put the septic field on the plan was under a provincial road reserve, and this was prohibited. Compounding the problem of the location of the road reserve was the Department’s approval of a lot adjacent to the man’s for development, a new survey which changed his existing boundaries, the new neighbour’s choice of where he wanted to put his cabin, and everyone’s proximity to the regulated high water mark.

Over the course of the following months, our Office brought together the cabin owners and brokered an agreement to alter the course of the road reserve to not only accommodate the wishes of the owners, but the requirements of the Department. Changing the course of the road reserve allowed the man’s septic design to be approved, and both grant holders received their Crown titles in early 2011.

Department of Health and Community Services

An MHA referred a disadvantaged couple to OCR after they were advised that their co-pay amount on prescription drugs was 68.2% and that coverage would be terminated within the next 30 days. OCR inquired of the Department of Health and Community Services and during the discussion, it was noted that the couple's income had declined, and that certain documents from the Canada Revenue Agency and an updated prescription history were required to conduct a full assessment of the couple’s situation. OCR facilitated transmission of the required documents and when the assessment was complete, the co-pay amount was reduced by over 35% and coverage was extended for an additional six months.

Department of Transportation and Works

A man contacted our office after his claim for vehicle damage had been denied. He explained he had to swerve to avoid a pedestrian and struck an embedded piece of steel on the Portugal Cove dock. Separate appraisals placed damage between $1100 and $1700. The Department refused to pay the claim after considering it for approximately six weeks. It stated that while it had removed the steel, it was never an issue before and the driver was aware of its existence but chose to drive over it. OCR investigated the complaint on the basis that the man’s primary concern was avoiding the pedestrian. Our site visit indicated there was insufficient room to avoid the pedestrian without hitting the embedded object. Within thirty days of our notice of intent to investigate the Department indicated its willingness to pay the lowest quote for the vehicle damage, resulting in a payment of $1,109.13.

Motor Registration Division – Service NL

A lady who tried to register her vehicle online encountered a glitch at that important moment when online payment is being processed. Unable to complete the transaction, unsure if she could drive her vehicle, and feeling lost when told the employee responsible for fixing the problem went off on leave, she proceeded to a bank to pay the fee. She was unable to rectify the matter on her own and contacted the OCR. Our inquiries to the Registrar revealed both the online and bank payments had gone through. To MRD’s credit the lady was provided with an apology and the second fee was applied to another vehicle she had that was coming due for registration.

NL MCP Program

A man who had been approved for, and received surgery in the United States began receiving bills from the service provider after he returned home. When he contacted MCP he was told that he should not be receiving the bills and was not responsible to pay them. Despite this, and as a result of a discrepancy between the price quoted and the price billed, he continued to receive bills. He contacted us after he received a letter threatening the matter would be forwarded to a collection agency. Our inquiry to the Department was acted upon immediately and the appropriate actions were taken to resolve the matter in the man's favour.