42.4 Responsibilities

In administrative matters concerning the Ombuds Office the Ombudsperson reports to the President. Because the Ombudsperson does not make binding decisions, mandate policies, or formally adjudicate issues for the University, communication with the President is essential when there are matters requiring action by the University. All communication with the President must comply with the requirements for confidentiality, neutrality, and independence detailed in this Chapter. In the case where there is a concern raised about the President, or where the President has an actual or perceived conflict of interest regarding a case requiring action by the University, the Ombudsperson exercises discretion over whether or how to act. If the Ombudsperson is satisfied that the matter is substantive and warrants the attention of the Board of Governors, the Ombudsperson may communicate directly with the Chair of the Board of Governors concerning the matter.


The Ombudsperson endeavours to be worthy of the trust placed in them. The Ombudsperson has a responsibility to consider the legitimate concerns and interests of Visitors to the Ombuds Office and any others affected by the matter under consideration.


The Ombudsperson listens to the concerns of Visitors to the Ombuds Office and offers information about University policies and procedures. The Ombudsperson helps Visitors to the Ombuds Office by offering a confidential channel for discussing or addressing an issue of concern without fear of retribution. The Ombudsperson helps Visitors to the Ombuds Office examine options for resolving concerns.  The Ombudsperson helps to promote ethical conduct and values; to alleviate disruption caused by disputes; and to identify policies, practices, or issues where a systems change may be appropriate.


The Ombudsperson explains the nature and role of confidentiality to the Visitor, who should understand that the Ombudsperson claims the privilege for the office and that it is not the Visitor’s privilege to waive. Whenever possible, this information should be communicated prior to discussing the concerns brought by the Visitor.


As a condition for accepting and benefiting from the Ombuds Office services, Visitors to the Ombuds Office have the obligation to support the Ombudsperson’s claim of privilege and not to attempt to breach this claim.


The University pledges not to attempt to breach the claim of privilege. University management or staff representatives are not permitted to seek to compel the Ombudsperson or staff of the Ombuds Office to disclose confidential communications.


The Ombuds Office provides a place for people to seek guidance on how to report actual or potential violations of the Institute’s legal obligations. The Ombudsperson helps Visitors to the Ombuds Office explore and assess an appropriate range of options, from the very informal to the most formal. Formal options may include ways to put management on notice of an issue, referrals to rights-based elements of the organization’s conflict resolution system, or the provision of information about the possibility of seeking external resources or assistance. The Ombudsperson never provides legal advice.


When the Ombudsperson works with a Visitor to the Ombuds Office to address issues that may involve formal alternatives (under laws, policies, or rules), the Ombudsperson makes clear to the Visitor to the Ombuds Office that an informal approach does not automatically exclude the Visitor’s later participation in more formal options, but that the Visitor should keep in mind possible time limits and their potential impact on the Visitor’s formal options.


The Ombudsperson works with the University to encourage it to provide its constituents with a variety of effective formal and informal options for surfacing and resolving concerns. All options should be well established and clearly and regularly communicated to the entire organization. As a Visitor to the Ombuds Office may wish to consult with additional resources and services, the Ombuds Office should describe resources that might be appropriate to the Visitor’s presenting circumstances.


The Ombudsperson makes an annual report to the President and the Board of Governors summarizing activities, problem areas identified, budget implementation state, and recommendations for systemic changes. All such reporting is structured in a manner that protects the identity of individuals and cannot serve to place the University on notice regarding any specific situation.


The Ombudsperson brings to the attention of the appropriate office those policies, programs, procedures or practices that may be problematic for the University or that may negatively affect people’s health, safety or rights.


The Ombudsperson and Ombuds Office staff keep professionally current by pursuing continuing education. The Ombudsperson provides opportunities for Ombuds Office staff to pursue professional training.

Table of Contents