Complaints Procedure

NOvember 2018
Last Updated
May 30, 2022

1. Introduction

Everyone is encouraged to raise concerns as soon as they arise. There are two procedures by which a person may handle complaints, an informal complaints procedure and a formal complaints procedure.

2. Informal Complaints Procedure

  1. Persons with a grievance should first speak with the person(s) causing the the grievance.
  2. If the matter is not resolved, or they are uncomfortable speaking with the person causing the grievance, they can speak to an appropriate staff person. For participants this may include an instructor, a Student Support staff member, the Program and Student Affairs Coordinator, or the Executive Director. For staff this may include the Program and Student Affairs Coordinator or the Executive Director as appropriate. For volunteers this may include their supervisor or the Executive Director as appropriate. For complaints about the Program and Student Affairs Coordinator, the Executive Director should be approached. For complaints about the Executive Director, the Program and Student Affairs Coordinator should be approached.
  3. When a staff member is approached, they will:

– ensure that an appropriate apology is made to the complainant
– take all complaints seriously
– ensure the complainant is informed of their right to submit a formal written complaint via the Division’s complaints form and that help is available to complete this form
– advise the complainant that they may lodge the complaint with a lawyer or law enforcement at any time
– if the complaint is about an incident of alleged sexual harassment, ensure the complainant that they are entitled to be helped by a trained counsellor throughout the complaints procedure
– as appropriate, provide contact information for counselling services
– give an opportunity to the person allegedly causing the grievance to respond to the complaint
– ensure that the person who allegedly caused the grievance understands the informal complaints procedure
– facilitate discussion between both parties to achieve an informal resolution which is acceptable to the complainant
– ensure that a confidential record is kept of what happens
– follow up after the outcome of the complaints mechanism to ensure that the behaviour has stopped
– ensure that the above is done speedily and within 5 days of the complaint being made

3. Formal Complaints Procedure

If the complainant wants to make a formal complaint or if the informal complaints procedure has not led to a satisfactory outcome for the complainant, the formal complaint procedure should be used to resolve the matter.

  1. Everyone has the right to submit a formal written complaint via the Division’s Complaint Form. If a complainant needs or desires, any staff member can assist them to complete this form.
  2. The form is to be emailed to the Executive Director unless the grievance is with the Executive Director, in which case it must be emailed to the Program and Student Affairs coordinator. The subject is to contain the word “urgent”.
  3. The Executive Director, a participant’s Student Affairs Advisor, or the Program and Student Affairs Coordinator as appropriate will review the form with the complainant the same day or at the earliest mutually agreed upon date and time.
  4. At the review of the complaint form, additional facts are gathered (if required), the matter discussed and a solution formulated which is acceptable to all parties.
  5. A record of all formal complaints will be documented and kept confidentially in a designated location with limited staff access.
  6. The staff member who conducted the review of the complaint form will follow up with the complainant to ensure that the matter has been resolved.
  7. The staff member who conducted the review will ensure that appropriate staff are notified of any staff training or modifications of staff training materials needed to address the complaint and/or prevent its recurrence.
  8. The Executive Director or their designate will ensure follow-up staff training will be conducted and staff training materials will be modified if required.
  9. The Executive Director will review and follow up with all complaints at their discretion.

4. Sexual Harassment Complaints Procedure

A victim of sexual harassment may choose to resolve the matter less formally through the regular Division processes for informal complaints and/or formal complaints. If the results of either of these processes are not, however, satisfactory to the victim, if the sexual harassment occurs between individuals with unequal powers (e.g. staff and student, staff and supervisor) or if the harassment is more serious in nature, then the formal sexual harassmentcomplaints process is implemented.

The Division recognizes that because sexual harassment often occurs in unequal relationships within organizations, victims often feel that they cannot come forward. The Division understands the need to support victims in making complaints where the complaint is against someone connected with the Division.

  1. Anyone who is subject to sexual harassment should, if possible, inform the alleged harasser that the conduct is unwanted and unwelcome. The Division recognizes that sexual harassment may occur in unequal relationships and that it may not be possible for the victim to inform the alleged harasser.
  2. If a victim cannot directly approach an alleged harasser, they can approach either the Executive Director or Program and Student Affairs Coordinator who will speak to the alleged harasser on the victim’s behalf.
  3. When a staff member receives a complaint of sexual harassment, they will:

– immediately record the dates, times and facts of the incident(s)
– ascertain the views of the victim as to what outcome they want
– ensure that the victim understands the Division’s procedures for dealing with the complaint
– discuss and agree upon the next steps: either informal complaint, formal complaint, or formal sexual harassment complaint; on the understanding that choosing to resolve the matter informally does not preclude the victim from pursuing a formal complaint if they are not satisfied with the outcome
– respect the choice of the victim
– keep a confidential record of all discussions
-ensure that the victim knows that they can lodge the complaint outside of the Division through a lawyer and/or law enforcement.

5. Formal Sexual Harassment Complaints Procedure

  1. The Executive Director or Program and Student Affairs Coordinator will instigate a formal investigation.
  2. The person carrying out the investigation will:

– interview the victim and the alleged harasser separately
– interview other relevant third parties separately
– decide whether or not the incident(s) of sexual harassment took place
– produce a report detailing the investigations, findings and any recommendations
– if the harassment took place, decide what the appropriate remedy for the victim is, in consultation with the victim (i.e.-an apology, a change to working arrangements, training for the harasser, discipline, suspension, dismissal, banning from participation)
– follow up to ensure that the recommendations are implemented, that the behaviour has stopped and that the victim is satisfied with the outcome
– if it cannot be determined that the harassment took place, they may still make recommendations to ensure proper functioning of the Division
– keep a record of all actions taken
– ensure that all records concerning the matter are kept confidential
– ensure that the process is done as quickly as possible and in any event within 30 days of the complaint being made

6. Annual Review of Formal Complaints

  1. The Executive Director or their designate will conduct and document an annual review of all formal complaints which will include:
    a) an analysis of causes and trends
    b) actions that will be taken to avoid future complaints or grievances
    c) the results of efforts to avoid complaints or grievances from the previous year, including any education or training that was completed
  2. The annual review of formal complaints will be documented and be included as an appendix to the Annual Report of the Division.

7. Review

This procedure document will be reviewed at least annually and updated as needed.