Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario

Adjudicative Tribunals Accountability, Governance and Appointment Act, 2009

Public Complaints Policy

Introduction

The purpose of the Adjudicative Tribunals Accountability, Governance and Appointments Act, 2009 (“ATAGAA”) is to ensure that adjudicative tribunals are accountable, transparent and efficient in their operations, while remaining independent in their decision-making.

The Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario (“SLASTO”) have developed documents to meet the legislative requirements of the ATAGAA.

Section 5 of the ATAGAA requires that every adjudicative tribunal shall develop a service standard policy which must contain, among other items, a process for making, reviewing and responding to complaints about the service provided. This policy provides a complaint process for the public.

Scope of the Policy

From time to time, SLASTO 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 decision from SLASTO’s constituent tribunals does not constitute a complaint under the Policy.  The procedure outlined in the Policy cannot be used as a form of reconsideration or appeal of a tribunal decision.

·         The Policy does not affect the public’s right to raise concerns with the office of the Ontario Ombudsman.

·         The Policy does not affect any rights provided in legislation applicable to the constituent tribunals such as the right to request a review of a decision, a right of appeal of decisions of SLASTO’s tribunals 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 Member, Vice Chair, Associate Chair, Alternate Executive Chair, Executive Chair, Executive Lead or staff who is the subject of a complaint is referred to as the “Respondent”.

Making a Complaint

Complaints must be submitted in writing to the Office of the Executive Chair. 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 respondent 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 Executive 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 SLASTO will be addressed in one of the following ways:

(a)  Summary Dismissal:

·         A complaint will be dismissed if:

                                          i.    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 decision or order of a SLASTO tribunal);

                                        ii.    The Complainant has failed to respond to requests for additional information and SLASTO does not have sufficient information to proceed further;

                                       iii.    It is frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or an abuse of process; or

                                       iv.    The Executive Lead or Executive Chair concludes that no investigation or action is warranted.

·         Written reasons for the dismissal will be sent to the Complainant and the Respondent.

(b)  Informal Resolution:

·         SLASTO, where possible, encourages and facilitates the informal resolution of complaints. Invoking a formal complaints process and subsequent investigation can be stressful and difficult for both the Complainant and the Respondent. Both parties may benefit where they are able to resolve the issue, problem or concern without the need for a formal complaint and investigation.

(c)  Investigation, Findings and Recommendation:

·         An investigation, if deemed necessary may include the following:

·         Conducting an interview of the complainant and/or respondent;

·         Interviewing other people who may have witnessed an incident or who may be in possession of relevant information;

·         Gathering and reviewing relevant information; and

·         Consulting with other staff, the Executive Chair or legal counsel.

·         Results of an investigation:

·         After an investigation is completed, recommendations will be at the discretion of the Executive Lead or Executive Chair, where appropriate, to determine whether any subsequent action is warranted.

·         The Complainant and Respondent will be provided with the written conclusions and recommendations of the Executive Lead or Executive Chair. 

·         The results of the investigation may be noted in the Respondent’s performance review, at the discretion of the Executive Lead or Executive Chair.

When a complaint is made regarding a Staff Member

A complaint about a staff member may be raised with the Executive Lead. Where it is decided to investigate a complaint, the Executive Lead will provide the staff member with a copy of the complaint and an opportunity to respond.  If the Executive Lead 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 Member, Vice Chair, Associate Chair or Alternate Executive Chair

A complaint about a Member, Vice Chair, Associate Chair or Alternate Executive Chair may be raised with the Executive Chair.

Disclosure: Maintaining Integrity and Impartiality of the Adjudicative Process

·         Where the complaint relates to a Member/ Vice Chair /Associate Chair/Alternate Executive Chair’s involvement in a proceeding – and considering the need to maintain the integrity and impartiality of the proceeding – the Member/Vice Chair/Associate Chair/Alternate Executive Chair will not be informed that such a complaint has been received until the decision has been issued and the Member/Vice Chair/Associate Chair/Alternate Executive Chair no longer has any involvement with the case. An exception can occur in rare circumstances and where it is the view of the Executive Chair that a party may be severely prejudiced if the matter is not addressed promptly.

·         Where a complaint relates to a Member/ Vice Chair/Associate Chair/Alternate Executive Chair’s involvement in an activity outside the proceedings, the Executive Chair will deal promptly with the complaint.

·         Where it is decided to investigate a complaint, the Executive Chair, at her/his discretion will provide the Member/ Vice Chair/ Associate Chair/Alternate Executive Chair with a copy of the complaint and an opportunity to respond. The Executive Chair will also at her/his discretion, provide the complainant with a copy of the Member/Vice Chair/Associate Chair/Alternate Executive Chair’s response to the complaint and the opportunity to reply.

When a complaint is made regarding the Executive Lead

If the complaint relates to the conduct of the Executive Lead, the procedure outlined for complaints will apply, except that the review may be conducted by the Deputy Attorney General or his/her delegate, Ministry of the Attorney General.

When a complaint is made regarding the Executive Chair

If the complaint relates to the conduct of the Executive Chair, the above procedure will apply, except that the Minister responsible for SLASTO or her/his delegate, being the Attorney General, may conduct the review. The Attorney General or her/his delegate will determine any action to be taken.

SLASTO’s Commitments to the Public Complainant

Timeliness

The Executive Chair or Executive Lead shall endeavor to respond to every complaint as expeditiously as possible.

If it is not possible to respond to a complaint within the estimated timeframe communicated to the complainant, the Executive Chair or Executive Lead will notify the complainant of the delay and will provide them with a revised estimate for the completion of the response.

Confidentiality

SLASTO will ensure that any information provided, concerning a complaint, will be kept confidential and among the parties involved.

General Complaints about SLASTO’s Policies and Procedures

From time to time, SLASTO may receive complaints of a general nature. For example, these complaints may relate to policies and procedures, and are not about staff, Members, Vice Chairs, Associate Chairs, the Alternate Executive Chair, Executive Lead or the Executive Chair.

Complaints about SLASTO’s policies and procedures are directed to the Executive Lead and/or the Executive Chair. Complaints of this nature are not covered by this Policy but will be reviewed by the Executive Lead and/or the Executive Chair, as appropriate in accordance with the commitment to provide high quality service.

Alternative Formats

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 Office of the Executive Chair, SLASTO.

Adoption

This policy will be reviewed every 3 years along with the other documentation required by ATAGAA.

This Policy was jointly adopted by the Executive Chair, Linda P. Lamoureux and the Executive Lead, Lynn Norris, on March 31, 2014.

Contact Information

Address:

Office of the Executive Chair

Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario

250 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Suite 401

Toronto ON M5T 2Z5

Phone: 416-327-6500

Toll free: 1-844-242-0608

TTY: 416-916-0162

TTY Toll Free: 1-844-650-2819

E-mail: SLASTOinfo@ontario.ca

This document is available on SLASTO’s website: http://www.slasto.gov.on.ca

If you have any questions about this document or would prefer it in an alternative format, please contact the Office of the Executive Chair, SLASTO.