Public Complaints Policy

Introduction

The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, the Health Services Appeal and Review Board (''the Boards'') and the Health Board Secretariat (''the Secretariat'') are committed to providing the highest quality service to the public.

Scope of the Policy

From time to time, the Boards and/or the Secretariat may receive complaints about the quality of service related to its practices or the conduct of its Members or staff. The purpose of the Public Complaints Policy (''the Policy'') is to inform the public about the process by which such complaints will be received, reviewed and resolved.

It is important to note that:

  • Dissatisfaction with the outcome of a Board decision does not constitute a complaint under the Policy.
  • The Policy does not affect the public's right to raise concerns with the office of the Ontario Ombudsman.
  • The Policy does not affect the right to request a reconsideration of a decision, a right of appeal from decisions of the Board under any Act, or the right to bring an application for judicial review.

Definition of Terms

A person making a complaint is referred to as the ''complainant'' throughout this Policy.

A Board Member, Vice-Chair, Chair, or staff who is the subject of a complaint is referred to as the ''person complained against''.

Making a Complaint

Complaints must be submitted in writing. Complainants must be willing to disclose their name, address, telephone number and connection to the matter on which their complaint is based. The written complaint should clearly describe the complainant's concern and provide details of the alleged conduct at issue. Wherever possible, the complaint should identify the person complained against by name. All information will be kept confidential and among parties involved, as appropriate.

Except in rare circumstances, where accommodation of a complainant necessitates receipt of a verbal complaint, only written complaints (including through email) will be processed using this Policy. In cases where a verbal complaint is received under this Policy, the Chair (or her/his designate) shall record the particulars of the complaint in writing.

In all cases, receipt of the complaint will be acknowledged.

How complaints will be processed

Public complaints to the Health Boards and Secretariat will be addressed in one of the following ways:

  1. Summary Dismissal:
    • A complaint will be dismissed if:
      1. It raises a matter that is not properly the subject of or dealt with using the complaints process and procedure (i.e., if it is about a Board decision or order);
      2. The Complainant has failed to respond to requests for additional information and the Board does not have sufficient information to proceed further;
      3. It is frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or an abuse of process; or
      4. The investigator concludes that no investigation or action is warranted.
    • Written reasons for the dismissal will be sent to the Complainant and the person complained against.
  2. Informal Resolution:
    • The Boards and the Secretariat, where possible, encourage and facilitate the informal resolution of complaints. Invoking a formal complaints process and subsequent investigation can be stressful and difficult for both the Complainant and the person complained against. Both parties may benefit where they are able to resolve the issue, problem or concern without the need for a formal complaint and investigation.
  3. Investigation, Findings and Recommendation:
    • An investigation, if deemed necessary may include the following:
      • Conducting an interview of the complainant and/or person complained against;
      • Interviewing other people who may have witnessed an incident or who may be in possession of relevant information; and
      • Gathering reviewing relevant information
      • Consulting with other staff, the Board Chair or legal counsel.
    • Results of an investigation:
      • After an investigation is completed, recommendations will be at the discretion of the Chief Operating Officer or Boards' Chair, where appropriate, to determine whether any subsequent action is warranted.
      • The Complainant and person complained against will be provided with the written conclusions and recommendations of the Chief Operating Officer or Boards' Chair.
      • The results of the investigation may be noted in the staff member's 's performance review, at the discretion of the Chief Operating Officer or Boards' Chair.

When a complaint is made regarding a Staff Member

A complaint about a staff member may be raised with the Chief Operating Officer. Where it is decided to investigate a complaint, the Chief Operating Officer, at his/her discretion will provide the staff member with a copy of the complaint and an opportunity to respond. If the Chief Operating Officer decides to conduct an investigation in response to the complaint, the complainant will be provided with a copy of the staff member's response to the complaint and the opportunity to reply.

When a complaint is made regarding a Board Member or Vice-Chair

A complaint about a Board Member or Vice-Chair may be raised with the Chair.

Disclosure: Maintaining Integrity and Impartiality of the Hearing or Review Process

  • Where the complaint relates to a Member's or Vice-Chair's involvement in a hearing or review, the need to maintain the integrity and impartiality of the hearing or review process, the Member/Vice-Chair will not be informed that such a complaint has been received until the decision has been issued and the Member/Vice-Chair no longer has any involvement with the case. An exception can occur in rare circumstances and where it is the view of the Chair that a party may be severely prejudiced if the matter is not addressed promptly
  • Where a complaint relates to a member's or Vice-Chair's involvement in an activity outside the hearing or review processes, the Chair will deal promptly with the complaint.

Where it is decided to investigate a complaint, the Chair, at her/his discretion will provide the Board Member or Vice-Chair with a copy of the complaint and an opportunity to respond. If the Chair decides to conduct an investigation in response to the complaint, the complainant will be provided with a copy of the Member's response to the complaint and the opportunity to reply.

When a complaint is made regarding the Chief Operating Officer

If the complaint relates to the conduct of the Chief Operating Officer, the procedure outlined for complaints will apply, except that the review may be conducted by the Director, Corporate Management Branch, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

When a complaint is made regarding the Chair

If the complaint relates to the conduct of the Chair, the above procedure will apply, except that the Minister responsible for the Boards or her/his delegate, being the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, may conduct the review. The Minister or her/his delegate will determine any action to be taken.

Health Boards and Secretariat's Commitments to the Public

Timeliness

The Chair or Chief Operating Officer shall endeavor to complete every investigation as expeditiously as possible.

If it is not possible to complete an investigation within the estimated timeframe communicated to the complainant and the person complained against, the Chair will notify the complainant and the person complained against of the delay and will provide them with a revised estimate for the completion of the investigation.

Confidentiality

The Boards and Secretariat will ensure that any information provided to the Boards and Secretariat, concerning making a complaint, will be kept confidential and among parties involved.

General Complaints about the Boards' or Secretariat's Policies and Procedures

From time to time, the Boards' and the Secretariat receive complaints of a general nature. For example, these complaints may relate to the Boards' and Secretariat's policies and procedures, and are not about a staff member, Board member, Vice-Chair or Chair.

Complaints about the Secretariat and Boards' policies and procedures are directed to the Chief Operating Officer and/or the Chair. Complaints of this nature are not covered by this Policy but will be reviewed by the Chief Operating Officer and/or the Chair, as appropriate in accordance with the commitment to provide high quality service.

Alternative Formats/Contact Information

This Policy is available in various accessible formats including Braille, audio tape and large print. For alternative format or a paper copy, please contact the Health Boards Secretariat.

Contact Information

Address:
Health Boards Secretariat
151 Bloor Street West, 9th Floor
Toronto ON M5S 1S4
Phone:
416-327-8512
Toll free: 1-866-282-2179
TTY: 416-326-7TTY(7889)
TTY Toll Free: 1-877-301-0TTY(0889)
E-mail:

This document is available on the Boards' websites at www.hparb.on.ca and www.hsarb.on.ca.

If you have any questions about this document or would prefer it in an alternative format, please contact the Health Boards Secretariat.