Complaints and Concerns: Frequently Asked Questions

Should I file a complaint or a report?

“Complaints” and “reports” are two different processes for submitting a concern about a College Member. It is important to know the difference before choosing which one to submit.

A complaint triggers a formal process where the Complainant and Member are both parties to the complaint. Regarding the complaint process:

  • The Complainant must provide their name and contact information.
  • The Complainant is kept abreast of the progress of the complaint and receives a written decision at the end of the process.
  • The Complainant generally has the opportunity to reply to the Member’s response to the complaint.
  • There are set timelines for the College to decide complaints (150 days – though this can be extended).
  • When the final decision is released, Complainants and Members have the chance to ask an independent tribunal, the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, if they are not satisfied with the outcome. This does not apply if the ICRC’s decision is to refer the matter to disciplinary or incapacity proceedings, as the matter is still in progress at the College.
  • To file a complaint, fax, e-mail or mail us a completed complaint form, which can be found on the Filing a Complaint page of our website.

A report is information that an individual wishes or is required to bring to the College’s attention.  Regarding reports:

  • The reporter is not a party to the investigation and decision-making process.
  • The College will consider the matter, and may ask the reporter for additional information; however, the reporter is generally not provided with updates or the result.
  • There is no set time for investigating a report, and there is no opportunity to request a review by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board.
  • To report information to the College, simply write to us with the information. It is helpful if you indicate that you are not making a complaint, but simply reporting the information to the College. Please provide as much detail as possible.
  • For more information about reports, review the Mandatory Reporting page of our website.

Can you protect my identity from the Member if I make a complaint or report to the College?

In order to submit a formal complaint, the College must provide the name of the Complainant to the Member. In some cases, the College is able to investigate a Member’s conduct based on information from anonymous sources; however, the College cannot guarantee anonymity. Depending on the situation, fairness may require the College to disclose the name of the person who provided information, if known. The College can redact information if it is clearly irrelevant, e.g. the personal contact information of the individual who submitted the information.

Do I need a lawyer for the complaints process?

Complainants may find it helpful to have a lawyer; however, it is not necessary. The College investigates and decides on all complaint matters fairly, whether or not the Complainant is represented.

While Members do not need a lawyer to respond to a complaint or report, we advise Members to use a lawyer. This is because the outcome of the process can have a significant impact on the Member’s practice and career.

How long does it take for the College to make a decision on a complaint?

The College is required to fully process each complaint within 150 days, but is able to extend the deadline if needed. If the matter is delayed, the College will ensure that Complainants and Members are updated about the reason(s). ICRC members and College staff work hard to avoid unnecessary delays in the complaints process—nevertheless, delays do occur. Currently the average time for receiving the ICRC’s written decision is around 240 days from receipt of the complaint. Timelines are affected by various factors including complexity of the issues and how quickly responses are provided when the College requests information.

What is the purpose of the Complainant replying to the Member’s response to a complaint?

To ensure an adequate investigation, the College generally provides Complainants with all or part of the Member’s response to their complaint, along with information gathered by the College during the investigation. The purpose is to allow the Complainant to clarify any details that were not clear in the original complaint, and to comment on the investigation and Member’s response. If the reply raises new information or issues, the College will provide the reply to the Member.

What decision is the ICRC likely to make regarding this complaint?

College staff cannot speculate or predict the outcome of complaints. Every complaint is different and is evaluated on the information gathered. Statistically, the ICRC has taken no action on approximately one third of complaints, and orders educational outcomes in most others. The purpose of the complaints process is to protect the public. If educational activities are likely to prevent the concerns from happening again, the ICRC is likely to take this approach. Only the most serious complaints, e.g. involving dishonesty or abuse, are referred to the Discipline Committee for a formal hearing, provided that there is enough evidence to support a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence.