Laval ombudsman apologizes for failure to serve residents adequately

Blais cites ‘obsolescence’ of her office’s online system for processing complaints

The City of Laval’s ombudsman says she wants to apologize to some residents for not being able to follow up on their complaints in a timely fashion because of “operational challenges” that have been impacting her office’s productivity.

In her report for the year ending in December 2022, ombudsman Nathalie Blais initially said that last year was marked by improved operations for Laval, although some challenges remained.

Sustainable solutions

“We have worked closely with the General Management and the Mayor,” said Blais. “Their support has enabled us to resolve some persistent operational issues and to consider the implementation of sustainable solutions.

“Although challenges remain, we are optimistic about the future,” she added. “We would also like to highlight the increased cooperation of the various municipal departments in improving the handling of citizen complaints, with a collaborative strategy that is beginning to bear fruit.

City of Laval ombudsman Nathalie Blais has issued an apology to those Laval residents whose complaints her office has been unable to process because of inadequate technological support from the administration, she says.

“For the coming year, our vision is clear: to resolve disputes between the municipal administration and citizens through openness, listening and communication. Our primary objective is to strengthen ties between all parties involved, facilitate dialogue, and contribute to a harmonious community.”

Obsolete computer systems

On the downside, the ombudsman’s office said several operational challenges had been hampering the processing of complaints and impacting productivity.

“These challenges include the obsolescence of its online system for processing complaints, which is no longer capable of producing reports and statistics, response times from municipal services, and a lack of resources within the team,” the office stated.

They added that with the support of the city administration as well as the City of Laval’s Innovation and Technology Department, the ombudsman’s office hopes that a new software system will be implemented in 2024-2025 to better integrate services and process complaints more transparently and efficiently.

In a key passage of the statement, they said the ombudsman would like to offer her “sincerest apologies to certain citizens for not being able to follow up on their complaints within a reasonable delay due to these problems.

Efforts towards progress

“These operational issues had been identified since Ms. Blais’ arrival, but it was not until 2023 that concrete solutions could begin to be implemented, thanks to the commitment and support of the General Management and the Mayor.” In spite of these challenges, the ombudsman’s office says they have redoubled their efforts to make progress on as many issues as possible.


The ombudsman’s office said they managed to process 457 requests over the past year. They maintain that 52 per cent of cases were handled within 30 days, including 29 per cent in five days or less. Also, in 58 per cent of cases, the ombudsman’s office guided citizens, informing them of their rights and putting them in touch with the relevant municipal administration or organization.

Some complex cases remain

In 42 per cent of cases they managed to work in collaboration with the departments concerned “to resolve the case fairly,” they said. In 10 per cent of cases, the department concerned changed its position. They said that some of these cases are still active due to their complexity.

In all, 36 per cent of the cases handled by the ombudsman were admissible (i.e. the complaints were deemed to be founded). The departments most often involved were: public works: 20.6 per cent, environment and eco-citizenship: 15.2 per cent, urban planning: 12.9 per cent and engineering: 8.5 per cent.

Blais seeks ‘commitments’

They said that in keeping with a spirit of collaboration in which the ombudsman seeks to run the office, Blais favors “commitments” from municipal departments rather than recommendations from the office. “The commitment is the result of an agreement between the Ombudsman’s Office and the City departments,” they said.

In the period between January 1 and December 31, 2022, up to the production of the report, 31 commitments (20 files, including systemic complaints) were recorded, and 55 per cent were completed. They said the majority of commitments concerned the City of Laval’s engineering department.