A Bill to create an ombudsperson has passed the 2nd reading in the P.E.I. legislature. An office for an ombudsperson is supposed to investigate citizen complaints regarding government services. Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker is pleased with the new bill.
“That ability for the public to ask for oversight on the workings of government is something I think is really important. So this is a big part of that step forward.”
A bill to create an ombudsman was introduced by Herb Dickieson in 1998 but was defeated by the PC government of Pat Binns. One more attempt to pass this bill was made in 2007, but it failed. Prepared by the premier’s office, the current bill is slowly making its way through the legislature. The current bill allows the ombudsperson to launch an investigation into government decisions, actions or lack of action.
The ombudsperson will be able to summon witnesses and require them to provide information under oath.
Bevan-Baker said that the key benefit of the position is its ability to improve the lives of Islanders.
“We deal with individuals and individual concerns, but very often, if the concerns are legitimate, they give notice of systemic deficiencies. And if we can fix the systemic deficiencies, then everybody is better off.”