Principles of Complaints Policy
- An accessible and effective complaints policy is important to the integrity of North Peel & Dufferin Community Legal Services (NPD-CLS) and for maintaining public confidence.
- The right to complain shall be posted in the waiting area of the NPD-CLS office and on its website.
- Complaints may be made by a client, or anyone else affected by the services of NPD-CLS. “Client” in this policy means someone who has received service, is receiving service, or has requested service from NPD-CLS.
- Complaints must be in writing. If a client has difficulty putting a complaint into writing, due to literacy or other issues, NPD-CLS staff will assist in putting the client’s complaint into writing.
Types of Complaints
- A person may choose to make an informal complaint, or provide feedback on clinic services, without putting it into writing and this policy will not apply to such complaints or feedback. A person may also choose to put an informal complaint or feedback in writing, with a request that it not be treated as a formal complaint.
- The following types of issues will not be considered to be formal complaints and this policy will not apply to such issues:
- A request by a client to be served by a different staff member (as distinct from a complaint about the service provided by a staff member).
- A discriminatory complaint founded in any ground of discrimination enumerated in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
- A complaint where the complainant makes essentially the same complaint to the Law Society of Ontario, or to any court or tribunal, as is made to NPD-CLS.
- The following types of complaints will be responded to by the Executive Director but are not appealable to the Executive Committee of the board of directors:
- Complaints relating to the legal merits of a case or the professional legal judgment of an employee of NPD-CLS.
- Complaints where essentially the same complaint has already been dealt with through this policy, or by the Law Society of Ontario, or by any court or tribunal.
- Frivolous or vexatious complaints.
- A decision by the Executive Director that a complaint falls into one of the categories enumerated in section 6 or section 7 is final and cannot be appealed to the Executive Committee.
- For the purposes of this policy, decisions of the Executive Director (E.D.) relating to the types of complaints set out in section 7, including whether a complaint falls into one of those categories, shall be deemed to be decisions of the Executive Committee and therefore a final resolution of the complaint by NPD-CLS. The complainant may then request a review by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO).
- A complaint must relate to an incident no more than six months prior to the complaint being received by NPD-CLS or, for a complaint by a client, no more than six months since the client last received service from NPD-CLS in the case related to the complaint. The E.D. may extend this time period at the sole discretion of the E.D.
- Any time periods in this policy may be extended on mutual agreement of the complainant and NPD-CLS.
- All complaints are to be dealt with by the Executive Director (E.D.), or the Assistant Executive Director, or a delegate of the E.D. or Assistant E.D., with the exception of complaints against the Executive Director.
- A complaint against the E.D. shall be dealt with by the President of the board of directors or the President’s delegate. All of the provisions set out in this policy shall apply to such complaints, substituting the President for the Executive Director in the complaints process. All references in this policy to actions taken by the E.D. are to apply equally to the Assistant E.D., a delegate of the E.D. or Assistant E.D., the President, or a delegate of the President, as the case may be.
- Within 10 business days of receiving a written complaint, NPD-CLS will reply acknowledging receipt of the complaint and advising of next steps.
- The E.D. will investigate the complaint and prepare a response.
- The E.D. will attempt to respond to the complaint within 45 days of the complaint being received by NPD-CLS. If more time is required, the E.D. will advise the complainant and will provide a response within a further 15 days (60 days from when the complaint was received).
- If the complainant is dissatisfied with the E.D.’s response to the complaint, the complainant may request, in writing, that this decision be appealed to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. The complainant must sign a consent form allowing confidential and privileged information relating to the complaint to be provided to the Executive Committee.
- On receiving the written request and signed consent form, the E.D. will forward the initial complaint, the E.D.’s response, and the further reply of the complainant to the E.D.’s response (if any), to the Executive Committee.
- Within 60 days of receiving the complaint, the Executive Committee will respond in writing to the complainant.
- The E.D. shall report to the board of directors annually on the number of complaints resolved without an appeal to the Executive Committee.
Review by Legal Aid Ontario
- If the complainant is dissatisfied with the response of the Executive Committee, the complainant may request that the complaint be reviewed by the Manager of the LAO Complaints Department by writing to:
Legal Aid Ontario
Atrium on Bay
40 Dundas Street West, Suite 200
Toronto, ON M5G 2H1
Fax: 416 204 4718
- Such complaints are dealt with in accordance with LAO’s complaints policy.