Ombudsman role to become full time

Yukon's next ombudsman will have a full-time job. The government announced this week its intention to hire a full-time ombudsman by May 1.

Yukon’s next ombudsman will have a full-time job.

The government announced this week its intention to hire a full-time ombudsman by May 1.

“I commend them for making that step, and it will be the start of a re-build of the office,” said Ombudsman Tim Koepke.

The current position is half-time, and responsibility is divided between roles as the ombudsman and as the information and privacy commissioner.

Koepke submitted his resignation earlier this month in hopes that the position would become full time.

When he took the job, he was clear about the fact that he was only interested in a half-time position, he said in an interview following his resignation.

“Clearly, the evidence is that it should be a full-time position. I’m not interested in it, so the best way for me to basically encourage changes and recommendations to be implemented was to give notice of my departure.”

His resignation is effective May 1. That’s a little more than a year into his five-year term.

In August of 2012 Koepke commissioned a full review of the office of the ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner.

The government approved a budget increase of up to $30,000 for the project.

The final report was released Feb. 1, and a key recommendation was to increase the ombudsman’s role to a full-time position.

The ombudsman reports to the members’ services board, an all-party committee of the legislative assembly.

The board met on Feb. 19 to begin reviewing the recommendations in the report.

In addition to committing to the full-time position, the board decided to begin the process for recruiting a new ombudsman.

“These two decisions were linked,” said MLA David Laxton, who chairs the board, in a press release. “With Mr. Koepke’s resignation becoming effective on May 1, the board knew it had to look at recruiting a successor. At the same time the recruitment process could not begin until we made a decision on whether the position would become full-time or remain half-time.”

Past commissioners, too, have lobbied for it to become a full-time position, arguing that the job is far too big to manage with only 20 hours a week.

The ombudsman’s job is to ferret out unfairness within government.

The recent report recommended several other changes to the structure of the office as well.

One key recommendation was to improve the relationship between the office and the government by establishing formal channels and protocols for communication between the two.

Another was to revise the Ombudsman Act to allow “own motion” initiatives. This would allow the ombudsman’s office to investigate problems it discovers in government, instead of being limited to following up on complaints from others.

The government has not yet responded to the recommendations of the report beyond its commitment to the full-time position.

“I’m hoping that they will eventually endorse the recommendations and act on them,” said Koepke earlier this month.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon government discontinues lawsuit over Dawson wastewater treatment plant

A government lawyer filed a notice of discontinuance to Yukon Supreme Court Feb. 19.

Photos: Rendezvous 2020

Some shots from this year’s festivities

Yukon First Nations’ graduation regalia sought for upcoming exhibit

Curator Lisa Dewhurst is hoping to get at least two pieces from each Yukon First Nation

National signs honour victims of impaired driving

Yukon government says it would consider bringing the signs to the territory if approached

History Hunter: Yukoners honoured for their contributions to Yukon history

The Yukon Historical and Museums Association handed out the 36th Annual Yukon Heritage Awards

Yukonomist: Whitehorse through the eyes of an app

You probably don’t use an app to decide where to dine out… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: free transit

Letters to the editor published Feb. 26

Local skiers compete in 2020 Yukon Cross Country Ski Championships

The event included dozens of racers competing in mass-start skate races

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in to hold general election in April

On top of voting for chief, three councillors, citizens will vote for a deputy chief for first time

Yukon’s minimum wage set to increase by $1 to $13.71 in April

The increase will make the Yukon’s minimum wage the fourth-highest in the country

City news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at the Whitehorse council meeting on Feb 17

Yukonomist: Three questions on Yukon Zinc and China

The case heard recently in Yukon Supreme Court is particularly troubling

Most Read