A Quick Trip to the Ombudsman’s Office: A Law Student’s Experience

  • December 19, 2023
  • Dylan Challinor

The Ontario Ombudsman is a government oversight body that resolves and investigates public complaints over most provincial institutions in Ontario, as well as municipalities, universities, and school boards. They also oversee the provision of child welfare services and French language services under the French Language Services Act. This article is my written reflection of a week spent at their office.

As a 3L Practice Placement student (completing that placement at Supreme Advocacy LLP), I was offered the chance to spend a week at the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario. After the initial thrill came my first question, what does the Ombudsman do?” Naturally, I'd heard of the Ombudsman. However, I had little substantive knowledge about the office's day-to-day operations and its role in the lives of Ontarians.

A quick Google search partly brought me up to speed, and my interest grew. I enjoyed my administrative law class at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law and saw this as an opportunity to see the on-the-ground fight for procedural fairness from the trenches, so to speak. (Sorry about the inadvertent military phrasing, I also serve as a Sergeant in the CF Reserves.)

In law school and as a Practice Placement student at Supreme Advocacy LLP, I have learned to write for readers, that well-crafted materials draw a reader towards one’s preferred conclusion.  If you read just one Ombudsman report, you will see that the Ombudsman’s approach is deliberately different. Different by design. The Ombudsman’s is completely impartial and independent. The Ombudsman does not have clients, billable hours, or dockets. What they do have – as I witnessed firsthand – is a unique perspective, and credibility with the public.