Toronto

52 jobs lost as Ontario ombudsman takes on new child oversight, French language roles

Fifty-two public service employees lost their jobs as part of the Ontario ombudsman's office absorbing oversight of two offices shuttered by the Progressive Conservative government last year.

PCs shuttered offices of independent child advocate, French Language Services Commissioner

Ontario ombudsman Paul Dubé said that preparing his office for its new roles has been challenging. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Fifty-two public service employees lost their jobs as part of the Ontario ombudsman's office absorbing oversight of two offices shuttered by the Progressive Conservative government last year.

The job loss figures were quietly listed as part of a news release Friday announcing details of his office's preparations to handle complaints and investigations that have up to now fallen under Ontario's Child Advocate and French Language Services Commissioner (FLSC).

The expanded oversight responsibilities go into effect May 1 following legislation that passed in December closing both offices.

In the release, the ombudsman says his office has secured an additional $3.3 million in "one-time transition costs" that will primarily go to severance packages for the 52 employees who lost their jobs when the offices of the child advocate and FLSC closed.

Ombudsman Paul Dubé said Friday that the province has approved $8.9 million in funding to bring on 43 new staff members, on top the office's $20.4 million operating budget. The move brings the full-time employees working under the ombudsman to 186.

It's unclear how many if any of the employees being let go might be brought pack as part of the 43 new hires.

"Merging two other offices into ours, while respecting their different legal mandates, expertise and importance in the communities they serve, has been complex and challenging," Dubé said in a news release posted online.

"We have built on our own a proven organizational model for resolving complaints efficiently and conducting impactful investigations."

The province says the move will save $3.5 million this fiscal year, and up to $6 million per year moving forward.

Two new "dedicated units" within the ombudsman's office will take on the work formerly performed by the child advocate and FLSC.

The government's decision to dissolve the two offices drew significant backlash from many who work with vulnerable children and from Ontario's francophone population, respectively.

Irwin Elman, the former independent child advocate, has expressed grave concerns about the limitations of the ombudsman's ability to investigate cases of children who die in the care of the province. Further, the ombudsman's responsibilities will not include any advocacy on behalf of children.

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