The Ombuds Office offers TSSA's employees, the public and regulated industry parties an independent and confidential way to engage on all types of issues, including reporting misconduct without fear of retaliation.
Contacting the Ombuds is not the same as reporting an issue to the organization and does not give TSSA formal notice of issues or claims. Informality is a key element of the Ombuds function.
If you wish to place TSSA on notice, the Ombuds can and will refer you to the appropriate parties, including the Statutory Directors, among others.
When you contact the Ombuds, no one will be privy to your inquiry. Those who contact the Ombuds do so with the assurance of strict confidentiality. The Ombudsman Office does not and will not keep permanent records of specific, confidential communication.
You may contact the Ombuds anonymously. However, doing so may present certain limitations on the Ombuds’ ability to be of assistance.
Engaging the Ombuds early in the lifecycle of a situation or concern will usually allow for a greater range of options. The Ombuds is available to meet with stakeholders in person or over the phone (at a mutually acceptable time, during or after hours). Contact the Ombuds:
Sandra Cooke, P. Eng.
The TSSA Ombuds role is that of an independent, neutral, informal, and confidential resource and serves as a supplement to TSSA's formal channels in which to raise and discuss concerns, suggestions, or issues.
The Ombuds function is independent of existing TSSA processes and structures, including its management. The Ombuds reports to the Vice President and General Counsel, and while independent, it does have the support of and access to all levels of the organization.
The Ombuds does not advocate for anyone. The Ombuds’ interest is in ensuring a process characterized by fairness and transparency, and advocates only for those interests.
TSSA's Ombuds adheres to the International Ombuds Association's (IOA) Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics (SOPCOE).
The TSSA Ombuds can:
Consider and address matters that come to their attention without a specific complaint.
Make recommendations to manage problems or improve procedures or policies.
Discontinue providing service from any situation, at any time, at their sole discretion, if it becomes apparent that the stakeholder is not acting in good faith, or not abiding by the tenets of the Ombuds Office.
Act without stakeholder or respondent consent if the situation is determined to present an imminent risk of serious harm to people or property.
The TSSA Ombuds is not permitted to:
Ask a department, employee or individual to breach stakeholder or respondent confidentiality.
Accept notice against TSSA or its personnel.
Participate in or conduct formal investigation.
Make or set aside TSSA policy.
Overrule a statutory director.
Overrule inspection orders.
Provide legal advice.
Advocate or adjudicate for any employee, stakeholder or TSSA.
Disclose confidential communications without permission or appear in any formal proceeding inside or outside TSSA.
The process is informal and strictly confidential. The Ombuds will listen, and if the stakeholder wishes to continue, a discussion driven by the Ombuds questions will follow.
The Ombuds will typically present broadly based options for consideration, however, the decision to proceed and with what option(s) remains with the stakeholder.
The Ombuds helps stakeholders to help themselves. Stakeholders initiate and choose the mode of communication with the Ombuds and determine when they wish to take no further action.
Through a variety of roles, including, but not limited to, confidant, mediator, or resource, the Ombuds is here to assist stakeholders in resolving or addressing their issue(s) prior to initiating more formalized processes
The Ombuds does not:
Formally investigate issues, create policy, compel action, or make management decisions.
Adjudicate or arbitrate claims.
Overrule inspection orders or decisions of statutory directors.\
More information can be found in the Charter for the Organizational Ombuds Office (pdf).
Sandra Cooke is the TSSA's Ombuds (sometimes known as an ombudsman or ombudsperson), an internal role that was established in July 2013.
Since joining TSSA in 1999, Sandra has held a variety of managerial roles in operations, fuels safety engineering and compliance, and business development. Her experience prior to TSSA includes roles at Ontario Hydro, a gas appliance manufacturer, and a certification agency.
Sandra is an Ontario Professional Engineer with a master’s degree and bachelor of Applied Science in engineering from the University of Toronto. She is a member of the International Ombuds Association (IOA) and an IOA-certified Organizational Ombuds Practitioner.