Dalhousie Law Journal


T. J. McBride


Ombudsman, welfare state, administrative injustice, redress


Along with the dramatic rise of the welfare state, a concept of government generally accepted by most Canadians if not enthusiastically supported, has come a realization that the opportunities for individual grievances against government have multiplied. Each year ".... thousands of administrative decisions are made, many of them by minor officials, which affect the lives of every citizen. If some of these decisions are arbitrary or unjustified, there is no easy way for the ordinary citizen to gain redress" .' Rather belatedly, many governments have recognized that the existing machinery to protect the citizen against unfair administrative action is inadequate and that new protections are needed. One response, and an increasingly popular one, has been to establish the office of ombudsman. Essentially, the ombudsman is a special officer appointed by the legislature to receive complaints from citizens against administrative injustice and maladministration and who has power to investigate, criticize and publicize but not reverse administrative action. To date, six Canadian provinces have established the office of ombudsman. One of these is Nova Scotia.