Ombudsman Saskatchewan, the independent watchdog promoting fairness in provincial government services, ministries and agencies and municipal governments, was in North Battleford Thursday as part of an initiative to be accessible to Saskatchewan residents outside of its offices in Saskatoon and Regina.
In its pop-up office at the Don Ross Centre, Ombudsman Saskatchewan representatives took complaints from area residents and afterward provided a presentation on the purpose of an ombudsman.
"We have public education and are getting out into the community, but really we let the work speak for itself," said Deputy Ombudsman Renee Gavigan.
The office of the ombudsman has a mandate to investigate complaints big and small — from resolving issues between a specific resident and the provincial government services and agencies under their watch to last year's investigation into long-term care in the province that was initiated at the request of the minister of Health.
On Nov. 19 of last year Ombudsman Saskatchewan's mandate was expanded to cover municipal governments. This means Saskatchewan residents now have an independent body to mediate between themselves and municipal governments, including council committees and approximately 3,700 council members.
Since the ombudsman's expanded mandate by the legislative assembly last year, Gavigan said their office has seen 490 complaints regarding municipalities, which accounts for 15 per cent of the complaint volume.
The intention behind the presentation, said Gavigan, was to inform the public on the role of the ombudsman and the recourse for every resident in dealings with the provincial government they feel are unfair.
"If people come out, they're here, they're interested, they're entitled to hear what we have to say."
Ombudsman Saskatchewan has two offices in the province, in Saskatoon and Regina. To get in touch, the public is asked to call 306-787-6211 for Regina and 306-933-5500 for Saskatoon. Emailed complaints can be sent to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org and the website is www.ombudsman.sk.ca.