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Understanding the Complaints Process

As a regulated professional, it may be daunting to think about becoming the subject of a complaint.

However, it is important to understand that outcomes are often remedial and offer you the opportunity to learn and improve your practice. By reading about the complaints process, you can be better prepared if it happens to you.

The guide below explains what you can expect.

What is the first step when the College receives a complaint?

When the College receives a written complaint, our first step is to make sure we have the authority to investigate it. If we do, we will choose the best method to move forward based on the options described in the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA).

Who can complain to the College?

Anyone has the right to submit a complaint to the College, including a client, their family or friends, colleagues, or employers.

How will I be notified if someone complains about my practice?

Once a complaint has been formally confirmed, you will receive a copy of the complaint along with a letter from the College summarizing the main points of concern.

Will I be able to submit a response to the complaint?

You will have the opportunity to respond in writing and give your side of the story, as well as submit any supporting documents related to the complaint. After you are notified of a complaint, you will have 30 days to send us your response.

How long does it take for the College to resolve a complaint?

Timelines are important to the College. Our goal is to resolve all complaints in a timely and fair manner.

While specific timelines for the complaints process are mandated in the Regulated Health Professions Act, the length of time it can take to resolve a complaint depends on the complexity of the issues, and whether more investigation is necessary.

From beginning to end, we try to resolve all complaints within 150 days.

If we are unable to meet this timeline, we will inform you and the complainant, in writing, and explain the reason for the delay.

Is the College available to answer questions about the complaints process?

While the College is a neutral party in the complaints process, our staff are available to assist you and the complainant by answering questions and clarifying details of our process.

We cannot offer legal advice or suggest what the outcome of a complaint might be, but we can keep you updated on the status of your file.

Investigations and Resolutions staff be reached by phone or email, and a specific staff member will be assigned as your contact person for the case. 

How does the College make decisions about complaints?

Once information has been gathered from you and the complainant, the complaint will be reviewed by a panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC). The ICRC’s role is to consider whether your practice has met the standards of the profession.

If the ICRC determines they have enough information to make a decision, both you and the complainant will receive a written copy of the outcome that describes the reasons for the decisions in detail. They may make a recommendation about how you can improve your practice or require you to complete additional training or monitoring. In some cases, no action is taken. In other cases, further action is required.

When investigating and reviewing concerns about occupational therapists, the ICRC looks at the nature of the issue and the possibility of harm to the public. The ICRC uses a risk assessment framework.

  • If the level of risk is low to moderate, decisions are intended to be educational and corrective.
  • If the level of risk is high, decisions are more serious.

Using a framework helps make sure decisions are consistent.

For more information: Learn about the risk-assessment framework and how decisions are made.

How can I lower my risk of receiving a complaint?

Remember: The complaints process is intended to protect the public interest and prevent similar issues from re-occurring in the future.

By cooperating with the College, knowing its processes, and keeping up to date with the Standards of Practice, you can continually improve and lower your risk of complaints in the future.