Complaints leap by 33% in 2008 - Montrealers make increasing use of Ombudsman's services to resolve irritants with municipal services

    MONTREAL, April 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Montrealers continue to make increasing
use of the office of the Ombudsman de Montréal when they are dissatisfied with
the decisions or the quality of services from the City and boroughs.
Complaints submitted to the Ombudsman in 2008 increased by 33% over 2007,
rising to 1,753 from 1,303, including 52 still-active previous files.
    Of these, 289 complaints resulted in a thorough investigation, or 13%
more than in 2007: fully 40 investigations dealt with one or more provisions
of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.
    "Citizens coming to us are increasingly citing the Montréal Charter of
Rights and Responsibilities to support their requests," Ombudsman Johanne
Savard confirmed during a news conference today to present the 2008 Annual
Report of her office, which is in its sixth year.
    The marked growth in the number of complaints in 2008 led Me. Savard to
conclude that Montrealers are placing increasing confidence in the Ombudsman's
office to try to resolve various problems. "All the files that we ruled to be
well-founded were resolved to our satisfaction," she said. "In only one case,
a borough refused to formally agree to follow our recommendation but, upon
verification, the essence of the requested changes was implemented."
    Investigations into cases based on the Montréal Charter of Rights and
Responsibilities are often more complex. In 2008, the average handling time
was 53.03 working days, compared with 30.02 days for all cases that required a
thorough investigation. Some examples of Charter-related cases handled in 2008

    - A citizen from Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles borough
      complained of nuisances (noisy loudspeakers, bright lighting very late
      at night) during sports activities in a park near his home. Agreement
      reached with the borough: installation of a timer to automatically turn
      off the lights at 11 p.m., restrictions on use of the sound system
      during the evening...

    - Granting of a special exemption from a strict ban on "tempo" driveway
      shelters in Saint-Laurent borough so that a disabled citizen, who
      absolutely required one to be autonomous, could install a shelter under
      certain conditions.

    - Modification of facilities recently installed at an intersection by
      Ahunstic-Cartierville borough to limit traffic and reduce speed on a
      certain street. The new facilities had a major impact on the autonomy
      of a blind resident living nearby, since she could not cross the
      intersection without endangering her life.

    Me. Savard also arranged for the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal
to issue incident reports that hundreds of fire victims had been awaiting for
a very long time: the information in the report was required by their insurer
to close claims files.
    Me. Savard lauded the excellent work by her seven-member team. "Their
competency ensures that we are able to act quickly to handle the cases
submitted to us," she said. "More than 90% of the citizens who wrote to the
Ombudsman de Montréal in 2008 received a final reply within a month or less.
When a thorough investigation was required, 45% of cases were completed in a
month or less and 70% in two months or less."
    The Ombudsman also initiated 16 files in 2008. These dealt with
protection of the Angrignon woods, improvements to universal access, illegal
encroachments on public land, inconsistent application of regulations,
variances in information available to the public, nuisances caused by noise,
traffic or individuals, and operating and/or customer service procedures in
various City departments.

    The Ombudsman de Montréal intervenes as a last resort to ensure that the
municipal rights of citizens are respected and that their cases are treated
with respect and fairness. This service is completely free of charge and
contributes positively to the process of participatory democracy within the
City of Montréal.
    Since January 1, 2006, the Ombudsman de Montréal is also the "guardian"
of the new Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities: it is the only
recourse available to citizens who believe that the City's obligations are not
being respected.

    Contacting the Ombudsman de Montréal:
    Telephone: 514-872-8999
    Fax: 514-872-2379

    An intervention application form and the 2008 Annual Report are available
on the website of the Ombudsman de Montréal.

For further information:

For further information: Anne-Marie Desautels, Optimum Relations
publiques, (514) 750-8690, Cell. (514) 220-6807,

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