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The Ombudsman de Montréal’s 18th annual report – Complaints increased in 2021 with 2,365 files processed, including 211 new inquiries, covering a wide range of subjects

Press Release

MONTRÉAL, June 13, 2022- The Ombudsman de Montréal, Me Nadine Mailloux, today tabled her annual activities report for the year 2021 to City Council. Presented under the theme Here for You, the report shows a record number of complaints, with 2,365 files processed, including 211 new inquiries, 40 of which were initiated by the OdM, compared with 2,150 files processed in 2020.

“In 2021,” said Me Mailloux, “our team drew on its expertise and developed it in order to listen, understand and resolve files regarding topics that touch on a variety of subjects, such as discrimination, home adaptation and Indigenous homelessness.”

Main complaint topics

The 2,365 files processed in 2021, including the 89 inquiries launched before 2021 and still active as of January 1, 2021, dealt with many topics. Among those, the main concerns involved: Public Works (320), City Services; communications, politeness, delays and procedures (220), Nuisances (172) and Trees, community gardens and parks (132).

It is worth noting that interventions by the OdM can take multiple forms and rest on many bases. In some cases, the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities represents not simply a jurisdictional basis but also plays a key role in their outcome.

Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities

In 2021, the OdM amended the way it categorizes files in order to better reflect the number of inquiries in which a right protected under the Charter would not have been respected. This way, the files in which the OdM invoked the Charter are clarified and reflect more faithfully its use in our inquiries.

42 inquiries launched in 2021 involved the Charter and 66 City principles, undertakings and responsibilities contained in the Charter were involved in these inquiries.

Indigenous and Inuit homelessness in the Milton-Parc area

On May 4, the OdM published its report on Indigenous and Inuit homelessness in the Milton-Parc neighbourhood. It shines a light on a humanitarian crisis in the heart of the city and contains five recommendations which are a call to action to authorities, particularly Ville de Montréal.

Home Adaptation Program (HAP) of Montréal

The OdM intervenes in the file of a citizen and insists on the fact that the systemic problem of delays in administering the Home Adaptation Program (HAP) of Montréal is worrisome and is liable to end up as a denial of essential services for many vulnerable people.

The OdM obtains several commitments from the Service de l’habitation, notably to document, gather and communicate its weekly statistics so as to keep delays under control. The OdM team will monitor the situation closely to ensure that the risk that vulnerable persons are forced to leave their homes because their dwelling cannot be adapted in a timely manner is reduced.

Universal accessibility

Residents of a seniors’ residence must travel 30 metres, cross the new bicycle path and get into the paratransit vehicle in traffic lanes rather than from the sidewalk.

The OdM asks the Borough to build a drop-off zone with a sidewalk ramp without delay in front of the residence’s entrance, which was eventually done after a lengthy inquiry. This file highlights the importance of integrating the principles of universal accessibility from the outset, at the design stage of new developments.

People in the parks

In the summer of 2021, with the pandemic still very much active, the vast majority of city parks were swamped by Montrealers. The OdM receives many complaints from people living alongside some of these parks about persons urinating and defecating on their property or their parking areas, soiled tissue papers thrown not in the trash or foul smells.

Long lines in front of the few sanitation facilities, a reduced number of available washrooms and chemical toilets deemed insalubrious are among the reasons invoked for the problem. The OdM begins discussions with several Boroughs, which are responsive and willing to provide solutions.

Among these was the Borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, which added a chemical toilet in the parc des Carrières, immediately resolving the problems in that area. Responding to the OdM’s suggestion, the Borough adjusts the signage in parc Sainte-Bernadette that indicates at strategic points the presence of nearby sanitation facilities. A similar situation was settled in the same way by the Ville-Marie Borough, to the north of parc Jeanne-Mance.

Nuisances emanating from Clos des Carrières

After complaints from residents living along Clos des Carrières regarding nuisances related to municipal activities there, the OdM intervened.

The OdM inquiry resulted in improvements for residents: replacing vehicle back-up alarms with quieter models, the resurfacing of a problematic stretch on rue des Carrières and of the site, the addition of speed signs, directives for supervisors, replacing and relocating some devices, etc.

Discrimination and exclusion

After noticing that citizens who belong to certain ethnic or cultural groups, particularly in the poorest areas of Montréal, made little use of its services, the OdM redoubled its efforts to highlight its jurisdiction over discrimination issues.

Currently, more sophisticated methods of tabulating sociodemographic data concerning people who contact the OdM are being deployed in order to better adapt services. Moreover, due to wide disparities in that regard and to specific issues that may exist in a Borough, emphasis is placed more on areas than on Boroughs.

Lastly, the entire OdM staff has received extensive training on various forms of discrimination as well as on investigative and analysis methods specific to processing complaints on that subject. All employees have also received their certification in gender-based analysis with an intersectional approach (ADS+).

About the OdM

The OdM intervenes on the basis of complaints or on its own initiative to ensure that citizens’ civic rights are respected and that their files are treated with respect, justice, fairness and goodwill by all municipal stakeholders. The OdM also provides the only available recourse to ensure compliance with the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. The OdM uses every intervention as an occasion to promote a culture based on quality of services, greater transparency and fair and just decision-making processes.

Since the 2003 creation of the office, the OdM has handled more than 27,656 files. Having recourse to the OdM is free of charge and easily accessible. OdM’s annual reports are available on the website.

For further information: Pierre Tessier, [email protected], 514 233-1636

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