TABLING OF THE QUEBEC OMBUDSMAN'S 2008-2009 ANNUAL REPORT - Important Gains for Citizens



    QUEBEC CITY, May 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Québec Ombudsman's 2008-2009
Annual Report presents a number of gains obtained on behalf of citizens from
government departments, agencies and health and social services institutions.
Some of these gains have triggered changes to systems and programs that will
have positive impacts for all users.

    Pilot agreement for public professional services in a private clinic

    In June 2008, the Québec Ombudsman examined the pilot agreement between
Montreal's Sacré-Coeur Hospital and the Centre de chirurgie Rockland MD to
ensure that users directed to Rockland MD for outpatient surgery would enjoy
the rights, recourses and quality of service stipulated in the Act respecting
health services and social services. The Minister of Health and Social
Services accepted the Québec Ombudsman's recommendations on issues such as
medical record confidentiality, health service security and clinical
supervision of nurses and respiratory therapists. It also asked the MSSS to
establish guidelines for the content of agreements between public and private
institutions, and to ensure that no balance billing be issued to users seeking
specialized medical services at private clinics under such agreements. (Page
76)

    Revenu Québec: Home maintenance tax credit for seniors

    In March 2008, the Ministère des Finances introduced an analysis grid
stipulating the expenses that are eligible for the home maintenance tax credit
for seniors. However, the new grid increased the number of verifications, and
this led to delays in processing applications for reimbursement of occasional
services. Following an intervention by the Québec Ombudsman, Revenu Québec
assigned ten of its employees to the verification task, and as a result all
outstanding applications for occasional and monthly services were processed
quickly. (Page 32)

    Revenu Québec: Applications to cancel statutory interest, penalties and
    charges

    The Act gives the Minister of Revenue discretionary power to cancel
interest, penalties or charges relating to a tax debt. Following an
intervention by the Québec Ombudsman, Revenu Québec introduced measures to
ensure equal treatment for all such applications and transparency in the
decision-making process, so that the process would be fair to all. (Page 30)

    Revenu Québec: Fair treatment for public sector and private sector
    employees

    Before the Québec Ombudsman's intervention, Revenu Québec had the power
to deduct a fiscal debt from the debtor's public sector paycheck, whereas a
private sector employee who owed money to the State had 90 days from the
notice of assessment to pay the debt. In June 2008, Revenu Québec informed the
Québec Ombudsman that the 90-day period would in future also be granted to
public service employees. (Page 32)

    Directeur de l'état civil: Better registers

    
    - Before issuing a new birth certificate after a ruling to change the
      surname or given name of a newborn child, the Directeur de l'état civil
      now checks with the court to ensure that the ruling is final and
      without appeal.
    - Where the information in a request for a certificate does not match a
      birth certificate that was amended following a ruling made prior to
      1994, the Directeur de l'état civil now checks the information in the
      ruling to ensure that the new certificate is accurate.
    - Since the summer of 2008, the Directeur de l'état civil now enters all
      births in the registers, even if the child's parent has not paid the
      fine for late registration. Fines are now recovered after the child has
      been registered.
    (Page 33)
    

    SAAQ and CSST: Coordination of actions

    The SAAQ and the CSST now coordinate their actions when considering the
cases of citizens who have already received compensation from one authority
and are applying for compensation from the other as a result of a new
incident. (Page 36)

    SAAQ: Compliance with deadlines for forwarding records to the Tribunal
    administratif du Québec

    Whereas it used to take an average of 155 days to forward a record to the
Tribunal administratif du Québec, the SAAQ is now able to do this within the
30-day period prescribed by the Act respecting administrative justice. (Page
38)

    SAAQ: Reimbursement of overpayments made by motorcycle owners

    The SAAQ has reimbursed the additional premium paid by the owners of
motorcycles wrongly classified as posing a risk to safety. (Page 41)

    SAAQ: Rehabilitation now acknowledged in the record management process

    Where citizens are able to provide proof of rehabilitation, information
concerning prior criminal convictions is no longer displayed in their records.
(Page 42)

    SAAQ: Termination of an illegal application of the Highway Safety Code

    Under the Highway Safety Code, a person who has not held a driver's
licence for more than three years must retake the theoretical and practical
portions of the proficiency examination in order to obtain a new licence.
However, the SAAQ should not require learner's licence holders who took the
theoretical portion of the examination more than three years ago to repeat
that portion before taking the practical examination. The SAAQ will terminate
this practice in the fall of 2009. (Page 43)

    CSST: An important clarification

    Following an intervention by the Québec Ombudsman, the CSST now states,
in its letters concerning worker compensation decisions, that all requests for
review must be made in writing. (Page 45)

    Régie des rentes du Québec: More effective communications

    In future, all orders and decisions will contain information on legal
recourses, written in such a way that people can understand it and act on it
where necessary. (Page 50)

    CLSCs: Removal of the financial criterion from the home service
    assessment process

    After receiving a complaint, the Québec Ombudsman approached a CLSC and
asked it not to consider financial capacity when deciding the number of hours
of home service to be provided to an individual. (Page 78)

    Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale: Indexation of social
    assistance benefits

    The Québec Ombudsman salutes the Government's decision to index social
assistance benefits. Recipients had not enjoyed full indexation since 2005,
despite increases in the cost of living. (Page 93)

    Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale: Relaxation of the
    eligibility criteria for the return to work supplement

    Since March 2009, social assistance recipients who start or return to
work now have more time to apply for the benefit payable during the first
month of employment. The MESS has also reviewed the other eligibility
criteria. (Page 101)

    Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale: Additional time for
    applications for compensation from Duplessis Orphans

    Following on from the Québec Ombudsman's intervention, the Government
agreed to extend the period during which Duplessis Orphans could apply for
compensation. Thanks to an order-in-council adopted in November 2008, 1,200
additional people were able to submit their applications. (Page 102)

    Progress made as a result of the Québec Ombudsman's recommendations from
    last year:

    
    - In future, government departments, agencies and bodies will ensure that
      the personnel under their authority understand and comply with the
      principles of administrative justice, and uphold users' rights.
      (Pages 15 and 125)
    - The education network can now introduce a credible and impartial
      complaints processing system; Bill 88, adopted on October 29, 2008,
      provides for the creation of a Student Ombudsman. (Page 125)
    - The Ministère de la Sécurité publique has introduced a communication
      strategy to prevent natural risks. (Page 125)
    - The Curateur public has entered into an information exchange protocol
      with the Ministère de la Sécurité publique to ensure that it is
      informed immediately when one of its wards is incarcerated. (Pages 93
      and 126)
    - The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux has intensified its
      plan to support the implementation of the complaints processing system.
      (Pages 84 and 128)
    - The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux has informed the
      Québec Ombudsman of the steps taken to ensure implementation of
      ministerial orientations concerning the quality of the living
      environment in CHSLDs. (Pages 63 and 129)
    - CHSLDs must inform agents and legal representatives of the
      institution's code of conduct and complaint procedures, and provide
      them with the local commissioner's contact information. (Pages 64 and
      129)
    - CHSLDs must ensure that users, agents and legal representatives are
      properly informed whenever service agreements are terminated. (Page
      129)
    - The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux has reviewed the
      implementation of the requirement for youth centres to adopt a policy
      governing the removal of children from their family environment.
      (Pages 56 and 130)
    
    -%SU: SOC,SAN,TAX,LAW,TRN
    -%RE: 37




For further information:

For further information: oanne Trudel, Communications Department, (418)
644-0510, joanne.trudel@protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca;
www.protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca; Source: The Québec Ombudsman


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