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If You Are Dissatisfied With Our Services You Have a Right to Complain

Our goal is to provide service that satisfies our clients.

We hope that your experience with our community legal clinic has been a positive one.  If you are unhappy with the service you have received at the clinic, you can make a complaint:

  • Talk directly with the person who has been serving you;
  • Write to the Executive Director c/o the clinic at the above address;
  • Ask to speak to the Executive Director, Hugh Tye;
  • If the complaint is about the Executive Director, write to the attention of the Chair of the Board of Directors c/o the clinic at 550 Fennell Avenue East, Hamilton, Ontario, L8V 4S9 marked “Personal and Confidential”;
  • If you are not a client or former client, your complaint should be made in writing to the attention of the Executive Director c/o the clinic at the above address.

If your complaint is not resolved by clinic staff or the Executive Director, the clinic Board will investigate the complaint and give you a chance to meet with members of the Board in person to discuss your complaint.  You may be asked to appear before the Board’s Complaints Committee.

The Board will provide you with a written decision which will either accept or deny the complaint.

If you are unhappy with the decision of the Board of Directors you can ask the clinic to forward the complaint to the Complaints Office of Legal Aid Ontario.

Complaints Office, Legal Aid Ontario
Suite 200-40 Dundas Street West
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2C2
1-800-668-8258  Fax: (416) 204-4704

The clinic will not provide confidential information about a clinic client or former client to the clinic Board or Legal Aid Ontario unless that person agrees to the information being provided.

i.e. Above is a summary of our complaint process. If you intend to file a formal complaint, please read the full complaint process.

Complaint Policy                                                                               Rights of Complainant


Complaints Policy

 Date Originally passed by Board:                      April 26th, 2011

                                                                           June 28, 2012

 Review (R)/Amendment (A) date:

 Next scheduled review date:                              Fall 2014

 

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I.COMMITMENT

Hamilton Community Legal Clinic/Clinique juridique communautaire de Hamilton (the Clinic) provides a complaint process for clients, former clients, those who have been refused Clinic services or anyone who is affected by the services provided by the Clinic.  

 

II.APPLICATION OF POLICY

A Summary of the Complaint Policy and Procedures shall be displayed in a public area of the Clinic at all times and this Summary shall be provided to clients at the time they retain the Clinic's services.  Anyone seeking services of the Clinic, who expresses dissatisfaction with services, shall be advised of the existence of this Policy and Procedures and afforded the opportunity to submit a complaint.

 Complaints may be made orally, in writing or by the complainant’s agent or in a manner that provides accommodation to the complainant.  Anonymous complaints shall not be considered.

 Complaints may arise from: 

  • denial of summary advice, representation or other service to the complainant;
  • the quality of the services provided to the complainant;
  • the quality of the treatment received by a client or potential client, including a failure to accommodate or differential treatment;
  • failure to provide appropriate French Language Services to the complainant
  • the scope of the Clinic’s authority to utilize public funds for a particular purpose.

 The Clinic shall provide accommodation, specific to the complainants needs, at any stage of the complaint process. 

III.COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE

The Complaints Committee is a Standing Committee of the Board of Directors.  At least one member of this committee shall be bilingual (French/English). 

Annually, following the Complaints Committee’s establishment, members shall be briefed on the importance of this committee, the procedures, and review the opening and closing scripts used at the review of a complaint. 

IV.TIME PERIODS

The Complaint Process shall not exceed sixty (60) days following receipt of a complaint. 

Complaints must be made within one (1) year after the subject matter of the complaint coming to the attention of the complainant. 

V.CONFIDENTIALITY

No confidential information shall be disclosed to the Complaints Committee, the Board of Directors or the Complaints Office of Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) without the written authorization of the complainant.  Complainants shall be requested to sign an Authorization to Release Confidential Information Form. 

VI.NO REPRISALS

There shall be no reprisals against a Complainant.  Submitting a complaint shall not result in automatic refusal of future services of the Clinic. 

The Procedures form part of this policy.


PROCEDURES

If the Executive Director is to be away from the office for more than five (5) days after the complaint is made, the initial steps shall be taken by the Director of Legal Services.       

If the complaint is about the Executive Director, it shall be referred directly to the Chair of the Board who shall implement the process in accordance with this policy. The Chair can be contacted c/o the Clinic and correspondence should be marked "Personal and Confidential". 

STAGE 1 OF COMPLAINT  

1.01    All complaints not resolved at the supervisory level shall be directed to the Executive Director, including oral complaints. The Executive Director shall contact the complainant promptly, including oral complaints, normally within three (3) working days, unless the complainant has indicated to the staff member that they do not wish to pursue the matter any further. 

1.02    The Executive Director shall endeavour to resolve the complaint within ten (10) working days. 

1.03    The Executive Director shall explain the complaints procedure including the right to complain to the Board of Directors and eventually the Complaints Office of Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) and shall forward a copy of this policy to the complainant. 

1.04    If the complaint is resolved at this stage by the Executive Director, it shall be reported, to the Board of Directors, without revealing the client’s identity or other confidential information. 

STAGE 2 OF COMPLAINT  

2.01    If the complainant is not satisfied with the resolution proposed at Stage 1, the Executive Director shall prepare and submit a written report for the Complaints Committee, within fifteen (15) working days.  The report shall set out the nature of the complaint as set out in this policy.   If the complaint is in writing, it shall be attached to the report along with the written response, if any, of the staff person against whom the complaint is made. 

2.02    A copy of this report shall also be forwarded to the complainant along with Rights of Complainant Sheet setting out the complainant’s rights during the complaints process.  If the complainant feels the report is inaccurate or requires clarification, they can write to the Complaints Committee. 

2.03   As noted in the Policy, no confidential information shall be disclosed to the Complaints Committee, the Board of Directors or the Complaints Office of LAO without the written authorization of the complainant.  The Executive Director shall forward an authorization to release confidential information form to the complainant. 

2. 04   The Complaints Committee shall deal with complaint pertaining to:           

            a)         Denial of summary advice or representation;

            b)         Quality of legal services;

            c)         Quality of treatment, including failure to accommodate or  discriminatory conduct; or

d)         Failure to provide appropriate French Language Services to the complainant,      the complaint shall be considered by the Complaints Committee.  

2.05    The full Board shall deal with complaints pertaining to: 

            a)         The scope of the Clinic’s authority to utilize public funds, 

2.06    If the complaint deals with any other matter, the Complaints Committee shall advise the complainant whether that Committee shall consider the complaint or refer it to the full Board. 

2.07    Where a complaint proceeds under 3.01 or 3.02, a meeting shall be held, within fifteen (15) working days of the date the report was received from the Executive Director, for the purpose of reviewing the complaint with the parties.  The Clinic shall advise the complainant of the date, time and location at which the complaint will be heard, at least seven (7) days prior to the date of the hearing. 

2.08    The complainant may be present at the meeting to discuss the complaint in person or alternatively, may forward written comments.  If attending in person, the complainant shall be provided 30 minutes to address the complaint and has the right to have someone speak on their behalf. 

2.09    If the complainant attends the meeting in person, the staff member or the Executive Director against whom the complaint is made, shall not be present. 

2.10    The staff member or the Executive Director shall be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations of the complainant in the absence of the complainant at a meeting of the Complaints Committee or Board and shall be provided 30 minutes to address the complaint. 

2.11    The Complaints Committee or the Board, in its discretion, may request advice from LAO as to the appropriate disposition of the complaint, prior to rendering its final decision. 

2.12    The Complaints Committee or the Board shall reach a decision following its review of the complaint.  The written decision will state that the complaint has either been accepted or denied.  If the complaint has been accepted, the Committee or Board may set out methods of addressing the complaint.  

2.13    The decision shall be provided to the complainant, any other affected person, the Board of Directors and the staff member who is the subject matter of the complaint. 

STAGE 3 OF COMPLAINT  

3.01    The complainant shall be advised of the right to ask the Complaints Office of LAO to investigate the complaint if the complainant is unsatisfied with the final decision of the Complaints Committee or the Board. The Clinic shall offer to forward the complaint to the LAO on the complainant’s behalf. 

REPORTING 

4.01    A summary of all complaints shall be forwarded annually to the staff of LAO, in the form approved by LAO. 

4.02    The Clinic shall provide to LAO upon request, any information relating to any complaint regarding the Clinic, provided an authorization to release          confidential   information has been signed by the complainant and the release of the information does not interfere with the Clinic’s disposition         of the complaint. 

4.        The Clinic shall provide to LAO’s French Language Services Project Coordinator information relating to any complaint regarding French Language Services that proceeds to Stage 2 of this procedure, including the Clinic’s disposition of the complaint. 

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Rights of Complainant

Under paragraph 2.08 of the clinic’s Complaints Policy, a complainant who wishes to pursue a formal complaint shall be provided with a letter that sets out the complainant’s rights during the complaints process. These rights include:

  • The right to make a complaint in writing, if made orally initially.  A friend, relative or agent may assist the complainant with their oral and/or written complaint;
  • The right to privacy/confidentiality within the clinic and the need to sign an authorization to release confidential information in order to fully investigate the complaint;
  • The right to meet with members of the Complaints Committee or Board if dissatisfied with the resolution at staff level, in accordance with the Policy;
  • The right to receive a copy of all reports relating to the complaint prepared on behalf of the clinic for the Complaints Committee or the Board;
  • The right to know the date, time and place of the Complaints Committee or Board meeting dealing with the complaint;
  • The right to have a friend, relative or agent speak on their behalf at the meeting dealing with the complaint;
  • The right to have a witness or present additional information at the meeting dealing with the complaint;
  • The right to receive a written decision from the Complaints Committee or the Board;
  • The right to request that the complaint be forwarded to the Complaints Office of Legal Aid Ontario.

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