Public Complaints Policy
VST Complaints Policy for Members of the Public
This policy is intended to ensure that complaints received from members of the public about Victim Services Toronto (VST) services and programs are dealt with promptly, consistently and fairly in accordance with VST’s high standards.
VST recognizes that when a person has a complaint about VST, the way in which their complaint is handled is critical to the person’s ongoing relationship with VST.
This policy applies to all complaints received from members of the public (including community members, clients, donors, volunteers, etc.) about VST operations, which includes the conduct and behaviour of all employees and volunteers and students.
Complaints are defined as an expression of dissatisfaction with regards to a service/program, an action or a decision taken by VST, or the way in which VST employees or volunteers carry out their duties.
Complaints typically arise when a person believes:
- VST has failed to do something agreed upon or expected
- A VST policy or procedure has not been followed
- An error has been made
- VST employees or volunteers acted in a wrongful way. A complaint is distinct from an inquiry, feedback, or a suggestion.
To launch a formal complaint, the Complainant must submit their concerns in writing and identify themself. VST will not respond to verbal or anonymous complaints. Accommodations will be made for individuals with disabilities. Once a formal complaint is received in writing, VST is committed to handling the complaint promptly, consistently, and fairly. The Complainant will be treated with respect and be kept informed of the status of the complaint, the investigative steps being followed, and expected timelines for resolution.
Upon completion of the investigation, the Complainant will be provided with clear reasons for the decisions relating to the complaint. If the Complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome, they may appeal the decision and have the matter escalated to the Executive Director or VST’s Board of Directors. All decisions made through the appeal process are considered final. To ensure transparency in the way complaints are being handled, VST will ensure that this policy is available on our website.
Anyone who has a concern is encouraged to talk with the employee at VST within 30 days of the issue raised in the concern who is most connected with the situation to resolve it before it becomes a formal complaint. This informal process can be used to resolve many inquiries or matters of simple error that can be corrected to the satisfaction of the person with the concern. Departments may establish protocols and responsibilities for handling informal complaints. If the matter is not resolved at this stage, the person can make a formal complaint to VST.
Employees are encouraged to forward informal complaints of a serious nature to the Associate Executive Director as they may be valuable to identify areas where service can be improved. Employees should consult with their Director when in doubt.
Formal complaints must be made within 60 days of the issue that the complaint is about. A formal complaint should be made in writing by email to email@example.com providing details of the complaint and contact information of the Complainant. The complaint may be directed to the Associate Executive Director. If the individual is unable to register their complaint in this manner due to a disability, they may contact the Associate Executive Director [insert contact details] to request accommodation, which will be provided appropriate to the individual’s needs and circumstances.
All formal complaints received by any other employee are to be forwarded to the Associate Executive Director by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is to ensure that all complaints are handled consistently and fairly. VST will respond to the Complainant within 48 hours of receiving the written complaint to confirm that the complaint has been received. VST will endeavour to report the complaint outcome within 90 days of receipt of the complaint.
The Associate Executive Director will delegate any complaints related to an individual employee, volunteer or student to VST’s designated HR Consultant. If the complaint concerns the Associate Executive Director, the complaint should be directed to the Executive Director who will undertake or delegate the responsibilities outlined in this Complaints Procedure. If the complaint concerns the Executive Director, the complaint should be directed to the Secretary of the Board.
Upon receiving the complaint, the Associate Executive Director will log the complaint in a registry and work with the HR Consultant to determine whether the conduct complained of falls within the scope of VST’s policies and procedures. If it is determined that the conduct does not fall within its scope, the Associate Executive Director will in writing advise the Complainant accordingly and will take no further steps under this Policy. If the Complainant does not agree with the decision, the HR Consultant may ask for a meeting with the Executive Director to discuss the matter.
Where a formal written complaint does fall within the scope of VST’s policies and procedures, the Associate Executive Director will appoint an Investigator to handle the complaint investigation. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Investigator can be VST’s designated HR Consultant or an external source with the appropriate expertise and level of authority. This investigation will include interviews and other means deemed relevant and appropriate to the situation. Complaints may be investigated through different methods which can include a fact-finding exercise. Once appointed, the Investigator will communicate with the Complainant to confirm details and to update on the status of the investigation.
The Investigator will be accountable to the Associate Executive Director or their delegate for the investigation and timely resolution of the complaint. Throughout the process, confidentiality will be maintained as much as possible without impinging on the investigation.
The Investigator will report the findings and recommendations to the Associate Executive Director or their delegate in writing. The Associate Executive Director will review the findings and recommendations with the Executive Director to ensure objectivity and fairness in the findings. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the complaint, the findings can also be shared with the Secretary of the Board. The Associate Executive Director is responsible for communicating in writing the findings and resolution of the Complainant.
If the Complainant is not satisfied with the findings or the corrective action, they may submit a written appeal to the Executive Director within thirty (30) business days of the receipt of the communication. If the Executive Director was involved in the complaint or the investigation, the appeal should be made to the Secretary of the Board. Upon receiving the appeal, the Executive Director will review the complaint, undertake any additional investigation considered necessary and make a final determination. The decision made at this level is considered final.
The Executive Director will report to the Board at least annually on the number and type of complaints received and the outcomes.