Our Role

What exactly is an Ombud?

The term ombud is a shortened version of the word ombudsman, which is a word of Swedish origin meaning “representative.” Over time, it has become associated with safeguarding the interests of the people in the resolution of conflicts or concerns. There are a number of different names for this role including ombudsman, ombudsperson, ombud, ombuds, or citizen representative.

Ombud offices are present throughout the Canadian provinces and most territories, as well as all around the world.

In New Brunswick, the Ombud is an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly who investigates complaints from the public involving government departments and other public sector organizations, as well as organizations that may hold personal health information.

Our services are free and confidential. We are impartial and independent from government. We don’t take sides, but we help find practical solutions to the problems people have encountered with the government or other types of public organizations.

What we can (and can’t) do

Our Office can respond to enquiries, facilitate the resolution of issues and conduct investigations involving public sector organizations, such as:

  • provincial government departments
  • agencies, boards and commissions responsible to the provincial government
  • local governments
  • district education councils and school districts
  • community colleges
  • regional health authorities
  • universities (for access to information and privacy complaints only)
  • custodians of personal health information (for personal health information complaints only)

Our Office does not have the authority to investigate complaints concerning:

  • judges and the courts
  • the federal government or its agencies (including the RCMP)
  • private companies and individuals
  • members or officers of the Legislative Assembly

While we remain impartial during our investigations, we always attempt to help the parties involved resolve their issues informally and as quickly as possible.

We have the authority to make recommendations and issue public reports to shed light on some of the matters we’ve encountered during our investigations. 

If you’re unsure whether or not the issue you’ve been experiencing is something we can help with, contact us anyway. If we can’t help, we will assist you in finding the places where you might be able to get additional help.

Our Mandates

Ombud NB has a broad jurisdiction in four main areas under six different Acts:

  • Administrative Fairness (Ombud Act)
  • Information and Privacy (Right to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act, Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act, Archives Act)
  • Wrongdoing (Public Interest Disclosure Act – also known as whistleblower legislation)
  • Favouritism (Civil Service Act)

Administrative Fairness

Ombud NB receives and investigates complaints from individuals who have had difficulty or feel they have been treated unfairly in their interactions with public authorities. The Ombud’s role is to ensure fairness in administrative processes and policies.

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Information and Privacy

Ombud NB receives and investigates complaints from individuals who are not satisfied with how a public body or health care provider responded to certain types of requests for information, or if they think a public body or health care provider breached their privacy by mishandling their personal information and/or personal health information. Ombud NB also receives self-reported privacy breaches made by public bodies, as well as reviews other types of requests made by public bodies to the Ombud.

Ombud NB is also responsible for reviewing whether someone should be granted access to certain public records held in the Provincial Archives.

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Ombud NB has the authority to investigate complaints from current employees of the public service respecting matters that are potentially unlawful, dangerous to the public or injurious to the public interest.

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Ombud NB may investigate allegations of favouritism made by unsuccessful candidates in the hiring process for appointments to the civil service. 

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