Pandemic changes complaints to provincial ombudsman in 2020

Provincial Ombudsman and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner Mary McFadyen has released the 2020 annual report.

The report shows while some complaints were tabled as usual with her office, the pandemic affected others as complaints about long-term care facilities and correctional centres increased while there was a decrease when it came to complaints regarding Social Services, SGI and Crown utilities.  In all, the Ombudsman received 2,492 complaints that were within its jurisdiction, 477 of those complaints – or 14 per cent – were related to COVID-19.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • The Office received 51 complaints about long-term care, about a third of which were related to COVID-19. Some people were concerned about whether protocols were being followed and whether enough precautions were being taken, while others felt the rules were being applied too strictly or wanted greater access to family members in care.
  • Government services and programs needed to adapt their rules to the pandemic. For example, a Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities (SAID) program recipient told us that Social Services required him to get a new doctor’s note to continue to qualify for a special dietary benefit – but he could not see his doctor in person due to the pandemic. He called us, worried the benefit would be taken away. With our help, Social Services answered his concerns and assured him he was not going to lose his benefit.
  • In another case, SaskTel denied Wi-Fi service to a resident who had an unpaid account balance, but who needed Wi-Fi so he could upload data from his CPAP machine to his doctor’s office (instead of attending in person, due to the pandemic). We made inquiries and found out SaskTel did not fully realize his circumstances. Once SaskTel had all the relevant information, it promptly provided him with Wi-Fi.
  • While complaints about municipalities increased overall in 2020, complaints about council member conduct (conflicts of interest, code of ethics violations) went down. Several people contacted the Ombudsman’s Office in 2020 with concerns about municipalities charging unreasonable fees for copies of municipal documents. The report includes investigations into two such examples.


Both annual reports are available at


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