Ontario proposes bringing universities under Ombudsperson oversight

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On Thursday, March 8, 2014, the Premier Kathleen Wynne unveiled a sweeping “Accountability Act” that, among other reforms, will allow the provincial Ombudsperson – currently Andre Marin – to investigate universities.
The proposed act also extends Ombudsperson oversight to municipalities and school boards. Other reforms include changes to the lobbyist registry and a new requirement for MPPs and civil servants to post their expenses online.
The Ombudsperson is tasked to investigate complaints about public services in Ontario. Under the Ombudsman Act, the Office of the Ombudsman has broad authority to investigate government and government agencies.
The Accountability Bill is expected to be tabled before the end of March. OCUFA will be monitoring the new legislation closely to ensure that the rights of faculty are respected. While an appropriate amount of accountability is important within Ontario’s university sector, any new arrangement must not impinge on the academic freedom of professors and academic librarians.

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