Several key principles guide the Ombudsman in the exercise of his mandate and ethical behavior. Four of these principles are Confidentiality, Impartiality, Independence and Informality.
• Confidentiality – The Office of the Ombudsman is confidential. The Ombudsman takes all reasonable steps to ensure that confidential discussions, complaints, findings and recommendation are secured and accessible only to the Office of the Ombudsman. Neither Algonquin College nor the Algonquin College Students’ Association may access information or files held by the Office of the Ombudspman. However, the Ombudsman shall not be required to maintain confidentiality in cases involving the commission of a crime or where there is eminent risk of physical harm or abuse.
• Impartiality – The Ombudsman does not advocate for either side in a conflict or dispute. Rather, he advocates for fairness for all parties involved. The Ombudsman also avoids any situation which could create a conflict of interest.
• Independence – The Office of the Ombudsman is independent in the exercise of its mandate. The Ombudsman is not affiliated with any office on campus and works very hard to merit the trust others place in the Office. The Ombudsman reports to the Ombudsman Review Committee.
• Informality – The Ombudsman is an informal resource and any communication with the Office of the Ombudsman is off-the-record and does not put Algonquin College or Algonquin College Students Association on notice of a problem. The Office does not replace existing channels of complaints or appeals, but serves as a supplement to existing resources within the College. By using informal processes, we move away from simply assigning blame and seek resolutions and reasonable outcomes that serves the interest of all parties and also enriches the educational experience at Algonquin College. The Ombudsman will conduct a formal investigation only when he deems it necessary.
For more information about the IOA, go to www.ombudsassociation.org.
Due to the confidential, impartial and independent nature of the Office of the Ombudsman, communications with the Ombudsman and his staff is privileged, and this privilege is held by the Office of the Ombudsman and cannot be waived by others. By talking to the Office of the Ombudsman, you and the Ombudsman agree that the Office of the Ombudsman will not disclose records of individually identifiable information. The Ombudsman shall not be required to maintain confidentiality in cases involving the commission of a crime or where there is imminent risk of physical harm or abuse. The Ombudsman will not participate or testify for or against anyone in any formal grievance (judicial or administrative) proceeding. Communication with the Office of the Ombudsman does not constitute notice to Algonquin College or the Algonquin College Students’ Association.
This agreement is critical in fostering confidentiality, impartiality, and independence of the Office of the Ombudsman and helps provide a safe and neutral place for discussing any concerns. Without this, the effectiveness of the office could be significantly undermined and students, faculty, and staff would be denied the services they deserve from this office.
Information obtained by the Office of the Ombudsman is held in the strictest confidence. It should also be noted that email is not a secure medium for sharing confidential information.