Norfolk ranks 7th out of all 444 Municipalities in Ontario for the number of Ombudsman complaint cases filed for 2017. Norfolk had 52 complaint cases in 2017, when 90% of all Municipalities in Ontario had 10 or less cases. Over a quarter of all Municipalities had zero complaints filed. Norfolk needs to immediately stop leading the way in Ontario for Ombudsman complaints. This is shameful to see that Norfolk County which has a population of only 64,044 has more yearly complaints then Municipalities 10 plus times larger in population then them. Unnecessary "red tape", inconsistencies in how policy is applied and having no accountability in my opinion causes these extraordinarily high case numbers for Norfolk.
Comparing the Ombudsman/complaint cases ratios to populations of neighbouring Municipalities for 2017:
Niagara population of 447,888 had 43 Ombudsman cases filed - When compared to Norfolk County's 64,044 population, Norfolk should have had only 6 cases, yet instead they had 52.
Hamilton population of 551,751 had 77 Ombudsman cases filed - When compared to Norfolk County's 64,044 population, Norfolk should have had only 9 cases, yet instead they had 52.
Brantford population of 134,200 had 17 Ombudsman cases filed - When compared to Norfolk County's 64,044 population, Norfolk should have had only 8 cases, yet instead they had 52.
The Norfolk County public has felt greatly wronged by Council and/or Staff, which causes them to take the time to fill out and submit an Ombudsman complaint against the County. I do not know whom the many complaints were from and I'm not sure it could be made public either, due to legal reasons. Keep in mind, one or a few people could have filed multiple complaints over multiple issues in one year, yet I find it hard to believe that Norfolk got this many complaints as a result of a few people alone.
In 2017 and going forward, Norfolk County was required/mandated to hire on staff an Integrity Commissioner. Norfolk County also hired a full-time Solicitor/Lawyer this year, to help reduce the legal costs associated with contracting legal work out. The yearly legal bills of Norfolk County I have never seen made public. And I am willing to bet that a bunch of the legal bills for 2017 directly relates to the 52 Ombudsman/complaint cases filed that year.
Norfolk needs to find the core of the issues causing these many complaints and resolve them by working with the public in a manner that all can benefit from. The current reactive approach, which involves lawyers battling, is a loss for all involved. The leaders of Norfolk County should be moving quickly to be proactive in reducing the overly high volume of complaints to ideally zero, yet realistically under 10 per year.
Retiring Ward One Councillor Noel Haydt holds nothing back as he reflects on his four-year term. This is a candid insight to the goings on within Norfolk County. After listening to this interview, it really explained and validated to me the reasons for the 52 ombudsman/complaint cases filed in 2017 by Norfolk citizens.
Listen to Mr. Haydt's interview here: Norfolk DNA podcasts
Info about the Ombudsman: https://www.ombudsman.on.ca/have-a-complaint