Call for Papers: Invitation to Contribute to a Special Issue on Ethics and Complaints Commissioner Offices (Ombudsperson)


There are Complaints Commissioner offices (Ombudsperson) in various public, para-public and private organizations. For example, according to the Quebec Act respecting health and social services (LSSS), all public health organizations are required to have a complaints commissioner and a medical examiner who reports to the board of directors of the establishment. Also, the Education act directs each school service centre to put in place a regulation to examine complaints regarding educational progress. Thus, Complaints Commissioner offices examine processes and situations related to dissatisfaction, experiences and respect for rights of users (e.g., students, patients). These examinations aim primarily at improving the quality of services, but also at easing social tensions and thus diverting conflicts from the courts. The Complaints Commissioner office is intended to be a neutral and independent trusted actor. Following a complaint or intervention by the Complaints Commissioner, a review may lead to recommendations to the organization with the aim of improving the organization’s practices.

Complaints Commissioner’s offices have received limited attention in the ethics literature. Nevertheless, many important ethical issues arise in the context of Complaints Commissioners’ offices that are distinctive and that warrant careful analysis. These topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Questions related to the way that Complaints Commissioner office influences (whether positively, negatively or wrongfully) access to services and orients the services offered to citizens, while also taking into consideration the questions of hierarchies and power relations related to the practice and the making of decisions.
  • Values driving the practices and decisions of Complaints Commissioners’ offices (and their tensions/conciliation).
  • Accessibility to the complaint process for vulnerable populations.
  • The influence of emergencies, such as COVID-19, on the practices of Complaints Commissioners.
  • A policy analysis that can shed light on ethical issues experienced in Complaints Commissioners’ offices.
  • The impact of the complaints system on the various stakeholders.
  • The issue of conflicts of interest, neutrality and transparency of the actors.

These examples illustrate the range of ethical issues that could be explored in this special issue which aims to document the experience of Complaints Commissioner’s offices worldwide and across various sectors of activity.

Author Instructions:

Contributions are welcome in different formats:

  • Articles (3500-15000 words; peer-reviewed)
  • Critical commentaries (2000-3000 words; peer-reviewed)
  • “Response to” commentaries (1000-2000 words; editor-reviewed)
  • Perspectives and testimonies(2000-3000 words, editor-reviewed)
  • Reviews (750-1200 words)
  • Case studies (750-1200 words)
  • Art, Culture & Creative Works (variable formats)

For additional instructions regarding manuscript preparation, and types of manuscripts, see:

The deadline to submit manuscripts is April 30th, 2021. Contributions may be written in English or French. Please contact us if you have any questions about a possible submission:


Maude Laliberté, pht, MSc, PhD


Jean-Philippe Payment, B.ARC, Dess APRI, M. GIPP

Accredited Civil Mediator, Assistant Commissioner

Office of the Commissioner of Complaints and Quality of Services

Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal