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Feeling fucked? Call your Ombudsman

By Dan Fill

It’s always nice to have a real good fuck now and again, but there’s a difference between a real good fuck and being fucked real good. Government bureaucracies have a special knack for fucking students real good. If you have ever had your OSAP application misplaced, technical difficulties in getting welfare, problems obtaining OHIP coverage, PST exemption, or government grants you know what I am talking about. 

I have worked for the BC government for four years. You have no idea how many times an application for something ends up stuck in the wrong file or placed on the wrong desk. Weeks later applications can be found all over the place, perhaps stuck to mildewed pomegranates in the lunch room, maybe crumpled beside the recycle bin, or used as a bookmark in a civil servant’s benefits package brochure.

You do not have to put up with this. If you are positive that the administration of a government department has bungled up a service request, call (416) 586-3300. That is the number of the Ombudsman Office for Ontario — the most important number you will ever need for maneuvering through bureaucratic hell. The Ombudsman is responsible for intervening in bureaucratic jumbles involving public service. We pay for this little-known service with our taxes.

The power of this office is phenomenal. I had a problem with my student loan application because of bureaucratic mix-ups. After months of trying to rectify the situation, I was informed I would have to wait another month to have my loan application processed. There were only two options: call the ombudsman or kill a bureaucrat. The ombudsman’s response was almost instantaneous. I got my Canada student loan approved on the same day I called and my provincial loan was granted two days later.

If you have any problems that involved government departments — discrimination, sexual harassment or what-have-you — the Ombudsman is the best avenue. In fact, their office also has a certain amount of authority in dealing with university administrative errors. I would say your best route in dealing with university errors would be to approach your faculty first, the next step is to inform your students’ union, contact the president of Ryerson and as a last resort call the Ombudsman. Showing that you have exhausted all possibilities is best. The only thing to keep in mind is to make absolutely sure that your problems are the fault of the bureaucracy that is causing the problems. It’s smart to keep a paper trail of your trials and tribulations. The trick is to make administrators accountable for their work. Every time you deal with a bureaucrat, take their name and title. The more information you have, the less chance that you’ll be fucked.

Dan Fill is a third-year RTA student that knows how to deal with those government yahoos.

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