Calls and formal complaints to Patient Ombudsman are extremely high at this time.

For new complainants: expect delays in returning your call.

For current complainants: expect delays in progressing your complaint file.

Our sincere apologies – we are doing our best to respond to you as quickly as possible. Our team is prioritizing the most urgent complaints. We appreciate your patience.

COVID-19 questions and information

Thank you,
Patient Ombudsman Team

Media Releases

Making connections – Supporting a better health system for everyone

Patient Ombudsman’s 2021/22 annual report highlights the strain patients, caregivers and health care providers have been under, with a growing number of complaints focusing on staffing issues, access to care, and a lack of courtesy and respect.

TORONTO, March 7, 2023 – In its latest annual report, Patient Ombudsman shares complaints data from 2021/22, and reflects on the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain Ontario’s health care system.

The pandemic continues to be an important factor in the complaints Patient Ombudsman receives. While quality of care continued to be the top complaint for both long-term care homes and public hospitals, Patient Ombudsman noted a 43% increase in the number of patients and caregivers who reported that they were treated with a lack of sensitivity, caring, courtesy or respect at hospitals, particularly in emergency departments.

In addition to looking at complaints data, the report shares patient stories that touch on issues of growing concern, including increased number of negative interactions with hospital security; discharging vulnerable patients from hospital to long-term care; and the stresses to the health care system seen in our emergency rooms. The report also provides an update on two issues examined in previous reports: concerns related to sexual assault and lost property.

Key Highlights:

  • Patient Ombudsman received 3,306 total complaints in 2021-22.

  • 3,291 complaints were resolved, including complaints carried over from the previous year.

  • 1,256 people were referred to patient relations staff at health sector organizations, including 200 courtesy calls to facilitate a warm hand-off.

  • 22% of complaints are about health care settings outside of Patient Ombudsman’s jurisdiction, and Patient Ombudsman made 300 referrals to health regulatory colleges.

“The pandemic has placed a huge strain not only on our health system, but on individuals themselves. Despite the challenges, our office continues to work with complainants and health organizations to find fair resolutions and to support patients and caregivers as they try to navigate a complex health care system. It is inspiring to see so many patients, caregivers and health sector organizations working to ensure others have more positive experiences.”

– Craig Thompson, Patient Ombudsman

Courage, Compassion, Clarity – Informing Change in a Time of Crisis

Patient Ombudsman’s annual report for Years 4 and 5 (2019-2021) reflects on the offices’ last two years of operation and highlights important issues including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

TORONTO, March 21, 2022 – Since opening its doors just over five years ago, the office of the Patient Ombudsman has championed fairness in health care by listening to patients, caregivers and health sector organizations to improve services and achieve better health care experiences for all Ontarians.

The pandemic posed significant challenges for everyone and altered the number and nature of complaints that came to Patient Ombudsman. Over the course of 2019/20 and 2020/21, the office saw a significant increase in complaints, specifically complaints about long-term care in relation to restrictions on visitation, impacts of infection prevention and control measures, and staffing shortages.

The annual report also includes case studies that touch on important and concerning issues. The issues we have chosen to highlight include sexual assault in hospital settings; lack of culturally competent care for Indigenous patients and caregivers; use of force by hospital staff; and impacts of isolation resulting from restrictions on visitation. The patient stories and resolutions speak to the work of an ombuds in determining whether a health sector organization has acted fairly.

Key Highlights: 

  • Patient Ombudsman received a total of 2,470 complaints in 2019/20 and 3,595 complaints in 2020/21 – a 45% increase from year 4 to year 5

  • Complaints about long-term care homes rose from 208 in 2019/20 to 650 in 2020/21 – a shift from 8% of total complaints in year 4 to 18% of total complaints in year 5

  • The disproportionate number of complaints about long-term care homes prompted Patient Ombudsman to launch its first large-scale, system-level investigation in spring 2021

  • The rise in pandemic-related complaints also prompted Patient Ombudsman to release two special COVID- 19 reports during this timeframe

  • More than 2,400 referrals were made to other organizations and oversight bodies in 2019/20 and more than 3,400 in 2020/21, including 2,300 referrals to patient relations offices in health sector organizations

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen throughout this report, both in the information presented and the stories shared. But even with the pandemic and other challenges we faced, this nascent office remained focused on meeting an ever-growing demand for help navigating a health care system that is increasingly complex and continuously evolving.”

Craig Thompson, Patient Ombudsman

The Ontario government has announced Craig Thompson as Ontario’s new Patient Ombudsman

Mr. Thompson has been leading the office as Executive Director since 2017 and he fully recognizes the responsibilities and impact of his appointment as Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman. Mr. Thompson brings a keen insight into the office of the Patient Ombudsman as a meaningful complaints resolution service to Ontarians.

Mr. Thompson’s appointment as Patient Ombudsman comes at a critical time in our healthcare system, as we enter our second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ombudsman Thompson’s priorities will be to complete the systemic investigation into long-term care homes that experienced significant COVID-19 outbreaks.

Ombudsman Thompson will also issue a second special report, over the coming months, that highlights the impact the pandemic has had on patients, caregivers and families in all three-health sectors that Patient Ombudsman oversees: public hospitals, home & community care, and long-term care.

"Taking on the role of the Patient Ombudsman is more than an honour. It is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to ensure that the full diversity of patients and caregivers voices are heard so we can improve our health care system for us all. I have always been a fierce champion for having patients and caregivers at the table leading change and that will continue as I assume this new role with the support of a talented and passionate team."

Patient Ombudsman Thompson accepted his 5-year appointment on March 29 2021.

We are incredibly shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Cathy Fooks, Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman. Below is a statement that was approved by Cathy’s family.

Statement on the passing of Cathy Fooks, Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman

It is with a very sad and heavy heart that we share the news of the untimely passing of Cathy Fooks due to a tragic accident. Since July 2020, Cathy held the role of Patient Ombudsman for Ontario, after 13 years as the President and CEO of The Change Foundation.

We send our deep-felt condolences to her husband, Terrence Sullivan, her four children and their partners, her two grandchildren, and the rest of her immediate and extended family.

This is a heartbreaking and devastating loss for so many. Cathy was a forward-thinking leader in Ontario’s healthcare sector. Among other accomplishments, Cathy pushed through barriers to make meaningful improvements to the patient and family caregiver experience. She was a visionary in engagement and co-design with patients and caregivers that will benefit the healthcare system for years to come. Cathy was a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, leader, mentor and friend.

The family will organize and share details about a celebration of life at a later date. Details will follow when they are available.

The entire staff at the office of the Patient Ombudsman, share our deepest of sympathies with Cathy’s family, friends and to all those she touched. We will share more updates as they become available next week.

Patient Ombudsman is releasing a special report Honouring the voices and experiences of Long-Term Care Home residents, caregivers and staff during COVID-19 in Ontario a snapshot of COVID-19 complaints received from March 1st to June 30th, 2020.

We are sharing our early recommendations as long-term care homes manage a second wave of COVID-19. We recognize that investigations and inquiries take time and while our investigation is ongoing, we wanted to be useful to a system that is responding in real time, to a pandemic that continues to unfold. This report is dedicated to the over 2800 Ontarians who died from COVID-19 and their loved ones. We also dedicate this report to the healthcare workers responding to COVID-19 across Ontario.”

Cathy Fooks, Patient Ombudsman

Patient Ombudsman – Diversity & anti-Black Racism Statement

Patient Ombudsman as an organization recognizes that systemic racism exists in the province of Ontario and in our healthcare system.

Specifically, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism are public health issues that deserve a sustained spotlight to facilitate conversation and action to promote health equity.

As a champion for fairness in Ontario’s healthcare system, we must ensure that all Ontarians have equitable access our complaints resolution service.

Patient Ombudsman is committed to promoting diversity and equity in our organization and complaints resolution service by:

  • Building capacity within the organization to accept, appreciate and respond to healthcare complaints received from Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities

  • Collecting socio-demographic data to amplify the healthcare experiences of racialized Ontarians, while respecting the privacy and confidentiality of our complainants

  • Increasing our community outreach efforts into specific ethno-racial and cultural communities to address gaps in our services and reporting

  • Ensuring representation from key communities based on our complainant socio-demographic data

  • Training and educating all staff on cultural competency, anti-racism, diversity and health equity

  • Improving access to language interpreter services and removing linguistic barriers for newcomers and immigrants

  • Ensuring Patient Ombudsman is a respectful workplace free of discrimination, harassment or violence


If you have any questions or feedback on Patient Ombudsman’s diversity practices please email us at


Link to Year Three Report 2018/19


Patient Ombudsman is pleased to share with Ontarians our year three highlights report: Listening, Learning, Leading.

As an Ombuds for health in Ontario, our organization continues our mandate as the champion for fairness in Ontario’s evolving healthcare system.

Listening, Learning, Leading is the highlights report of Patient Ombudsman’s third year of operations and builds from the collective work of Fearless (year one report) and Fairness (year two highlights).

As we evolve as an organization and enhance our service to Ontarians, Patient Ombudsman shares how we are:

  • Listening
    Patient Ombudsman listens to patients and caregivers as they share their experiences with health sector organizations and then works to achieve fair resolutions to their concerns.

    In our balanced approach to complaints resolution, we also listen to health sector organizations and ensure that they have meaningful opportunities to respond.
  • Learning
    Through the complaints we receive, Patient Ombudsman is able to learn what is working and what is not in our healthcare system. We view complaints as opportunities for health sector organizations to learn and improve.

    Patient Ombudsman is committed to learning from and using the information and evidence gathered over our three years to identify issues and situations that would benefit from more in-depth review and investigations.
  • Leading
    Patient Ombudsman recognizes our unique role as an Ombuds for health in Ontario. We will continue to lead as an independent, impartial and confidential complaints resolution service for healthcare experiences in Ontario.


Year Three 2018/19


Patient Ombudsman is a safe-space to share your healthcare concerns

We want to thank patients and their caregivers for contacting our office to share their complaints and healthcare experiences. Sharing your concerns has an impact and it makes our healthcare system better for all Ontarians.

Patient Ombudsman strives to make our service a safe-space where we treat everyone with empathy, dignity and fairness.

We also want to thank the health sector organizations within our jurisdiction (public hospitals, long-term care homes, home and community care coordinated by the Local Health Integration Networks) for being open to change and meaningful resolutions that are fair for everyone.

The number of complaints that come to our office and the number of successful resolutions we facilitate continue to grow.

Patient Ombudsman are a team of compassionate people who are here to help

We want all Ontarians to know that even without a ‘Patient Ombudsman’ in name we have the authority to continue our mandate as champions for fairness.

We have a dedicated team of skilled early resolution specialists and investigators who continue to listen to your concerns and work to make every experience matter.

We also plan to keep all Ontarians informed about any news about the appointment of our new Patient Ombudsman. The Public Appointments Secretariat will oversee the selection of a new Patient Ombudsman. The Ontario government will manage the recruitment process.  Our office is not doing the recruiting ‘in-house’.

Patient Ombudsman wants to hear from you

If you have any compliments, complaints or other comments about your experience with our office, we invite you to send us an email at, where a member of the senior leadership team will review your feedback and contact you to reply. You may also send a confidential letter to our mailing address, attention “Feedback”.

Box 130, 77 Wellesley Street West, Toronto ON M7A 1N3


Christine Elliott submitted her resignation as Ontario’s first Patient Ombudsman on February 1, 2018.

Until the next Patient Ombudsman is appointed, our office will continue to help patients and caregivers resolve their complaints about patient care and healthcare experiences in public hospitals, long-term care homes and home and community care services delivered by the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). We are committed to ensuring that there will be no disruptions to our day-to-day operations, and that patients, caregivers and families can continue to access our services.

We want each person who contacts our office to know that we are continuing to listen and learn, as we work to make every experience matter.
If you have any compliments, complaints or other comments about your experience with our office, we invite you to send us an email at, where a member of the senior leadership team will review your feedback and contact you to reply. You may also send a confidential letter to our mailing address, attention “Feedback”.

With that said, we continue to ask patients and caregivers to be fearless in bringing their complaints to our office and for health sector organizations to be fearless in working with us to help improve Ontario’s healthcare system.

We’ll provide more information as it becomes available.



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