The purpose of this policy is to create a quick and transparent process to respond and resolve public complaints fairly. HRLSC staff and Board members will respond to each complaint in a considerate and respectful manner and make every reasonable effort to resolve it. The HRLSC will provide a written decision where required.
Complaints will be confidential except as necessary for investigation. As a matter of fairness, the staff who is the subject of the complaint will be informed of the complaint.
Step 1: Preparing a complaint
Eligibility under this policy
Service users may submit a complaint under this policy regarding one or more of the following concerns:
- the eligibility for HRLSC services;
- the quality of HRLSC services; and
- the conduct of staff.
The HRLSC may not deal with a complaint if:
- the complaint is about general questions or comments about an HRLSC policy or decision;
- the complaint is about the outcome of a case. If a service user is unhappy with the outcome of their settlement or hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”), they may wish to discuss their legal options with the HRLSC staff assigned to their file;
- the complaint is about refusal of legal representation and/or retained services, if the last incident of discrimination is beyond the one (1) year limitation period and there is no reasonable prospect of convincing the HRTO to consider extenuating circumstances;
- the complaint is about the refusal to provide alternative counsel;
- the complaint is about legal services provided more than six (6) months before the complaint is submitted. The HRLSC is prepared to review this limitation in extenuating circumstances;
- the personal information of the service user such as a name, mailing/email address and/or phone number, is not provided;
- additional information about the complaint is requested, and the service user does not reply in a reasonable time frame;
- the HRLSC determines the complaint to be frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith;
- the service user is abusive or uses violent language towards staff members at any point; or
- the matter has already been resolved, in accordance with this policy.
Sending a complaint
To start a complaint, a service user should notify the HRLSC of the complaint by:
- informing a staff member of their wish to make a complaint; or
- sending an email to the Complaints Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org with an explanation of their complaint.
If accommodation is required, the service user should refer to the HRLSC Accommodation Policy. Please state any accommodation you may need to make a complaint under this Public Complaints Policy.
A complaint concerning:
- a staff member will be addressed by their immediate Manager;
- a Manager shall be referred to the Legal Director;
- the Legal Director and/or Chief Administrative Officer shall be referred to the Executive Director; or
- the Executive Director shall be referred to the Chair of the Board of Directors.
The Supervisor or the Complaints Officer will acknowledge the complaint.
A complaint against the Chair of the Board of Directors may be made to the attention of the Attorney General. Contact information for the office of the Attorney General is found at the end of this policy.
A complaint against the Chair with respect to an ethical issue or a potential conflict of interest may be directed to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner. Contact information for the Integrity Commissioner is found at the end of this policy.
Step 2: Complaint received by the Supervisor
After being notified of a complaint, the immediate Supervisor of the staff member subject of the complaint will have a phone call with the service user to discuss their concerns.
After discussing the complaint with the service user, the Supervisor will confirm, in writing, the outcome of the conversation. They will refer the service user to the complaints policy, if no resolution is found.
Step 3: Review by the Executive Director’s Office
If the Manager is not able to resolve the complaint, the service user may submit, within five (5) business days after receipt of the Manager’s letter, a written complaint to the Executive Director by:
- downloading and filling out the complaint form; and
- sending the completed form to email@example.com to the attention of the Complaints Officer.
After receipt of a complaint form, the Complaints Officer will confirm receipt of the complaint within two (2) business days.
A formal letter will be sent to the service user within ten (10) business days confirming that their complaint has been referred to the Executive Director’s Office.
All complaints directed to the Executive Director’s Office will be dealt with by the Executive Director or delegate, with the assistance of the Complaints Officer.
Within thirty (30) business days of receiving the complaint, the Executive Director or delegate:
- will investigate the complaint;
- may discuss the complaint, and any possible basis for resolution, with the service user and the staff member(s) involved; and
- shall provide the service user with a written response to their complaint, including the summary and findings of their review.
If the Executive Director is unable to meet this timeline, the Complaints Officer will advise the service user of the need for an extension.
Step 4: Review by the Board of Directors
If, the service user is not satisfied with the Executive Director or delegate’s decision, they may within ten (10) business days upon receipt of the decision:
- make a written request to the Complaints Officer to have the HRLSC Board of Directors review the decision; and
- send any additional information they wish the Board to consider as part of their complaint.
Within two (2) business days upon submission of the request to raise the complaint to the Board’s level, the Complaints Officer will confirm receipt of the request and ask the service user to complete a written consent form to release information relating to the complaint to the Board Members. The consent will allow the Board of Directors to fully consider the circumstances of the complaint. The consent form should be completed and returned to the Complaints Officer within ten (10) business days. If consent is not provided, the complaint will not proceed to the Board.
After confirming receipt of the request to raise the complaint to the Board’s level, the Complaints Officer will send a formal letter to the service user within ten (10) business days informing that the complaint has been referred to the Board.
A Complaints Committee will be selected from the Board Members for each complaint referred to the Board.
Within sixty (60) business days of receiving the complaint, the Board’s Committee shall:
- review the process followed by the Executive Director or delegate and consult with the parties involved, if necessary, to determine if the complaint was handled in a manner that is consistent with HRLSC Complaints Policy;
- consider the complaint to determine if a resolution is still possible; and
- respond by letter to the service user who made the complaint or return the complaint to the Executive Director with directions for further action. In all cases, the Board’s Committee shall provide its decision to the service user in writing.
A copy of the decision will be given to the staff member(s) who is (are) the subject of the complaint and the Committee will report to the full Board of Directors on its disposition of the complaint.
The Board’s Committee’s decision is final and is not subject to any future review by the HRLSC.
If the service user is dissatisfied with the Board’s decision, they may raise their concern with the Ombudsman of Ontario. Contact information for the Ombudsman’s Office is found at the end of this policy.
Attorney General of Ontario
Ministry of the Attorney General
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor,
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9
Tel: (416) 326-2220
Fax: (416) 326-4007
Toll Free: 1-800-518-7901
TTY: (416) 326-4012
Toll Free TTY : 1-877-425-0575
Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario
Bell Trinity Square
483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C9
Toll Free: 1-800-263-1830 – Complaints Line
TTY Toll Free: 1-866-411-4211
Office of the Integrity Commissioner
2 Bloor Street West, Suite 2100
Toronto, ON M4W 3E2