Complaint Policy

Part 1: Policy Statement

As a service provider and member of Imagine Canada, The Lighthouse believes it is important to have a mechanism for people to bring forward complaints relating to their interactions with The Lighthouse. As such, The Lighthouse commits to maintaining a complaint policy and procedures that provide for a fair, accessible process that is timely and, when appropriate, repairs relationships to the best of its ability.


Part 2: Application

The Policy applies to all Employees and Board members responsible for administering this Policy.


Part 3: Definitions

Chair means the Chair of The Lighthouse Board of Directors

Complaint means a specific statement that a situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable regarding any aspect of The Lighthouse, such as conduct, policies, processes, service delivery, communication, donor management, or any other of its activities; a negative comment on an evaluation form does not constitute a complaint on its own

Complainant means a member of the public who has/had any interaction with the Lighthouse as a donor, participant, volunteer, partner, or any other capacity; or, a staff member or contracted service provider

Employee means an employee, a volunteer, and a contractor providing on-going services, unless stated otherwise

Frivolous means a complaint that has no arguable basis in fact

Respondent means the person who is the subject of a complaint

Reviewer means the person or body responsible for receiving and responding to appeals

Vexatious means a repetitive, burdensome, and unwarranted complaint or one that has been made in bad faith


Part 4: Roles and Responsibilities

4.1 Board of Directors

The Lighthouse Board of Directors is responsible for approving this Policy.


4.2 Executive Director

The Executive Director is responsible for:

i. developing this Policy and submitting the Policy, and any future amendments, to the Board of Directors for approval;

ii. ensuring information is accessible on The Lighthouse website regarding this Policy and how to file a complaint; and,

iii. ensuring that appropriate procedures and practices are in place to support compliance with this Policy.


4.3 Chair

The Chair is responsible for:

i. Receiving and managing any complaint making allegations about the conduct of the Executive Director; and,

ii. Receiving and managing any complaints making allegations about the conduct of a member the Board of Directors or a member of a Board Committee; and,

iii. Receiving and managing any complaints regarding policies approved by the Board of Directors.


Part 5: Principles

5.1 Confidentiality

  1. a) Complaint information will be handled in confidential and sensitive manner.
  2. b) Disclosure of complaint information will be made only to those who need to know for the purpose of investigating and resolving a complaint, and as required by law.
  3. c) Notwithstanding the above, if a complaint alleges that a criminal act has occurred, the appropriate authorities will be notified.


5.2 Directly Affected

  1. a) Complaints will be accepted when the Complainant has been directly affected, or has direct knowledge of the circumstances of the complaint.
  2. b) The Executive Director has the discretion not to proceed with a complaint when the Complainant has not been directly affected, or does not have direct knowledge of the circumstances of the complaint.


5.3 Frivolous or Vexatious Complaints

  1. a) Upon reviewing the substance of a complaint, or at any time during the investigation of a complaint, the Executive Director determines that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, the Executive Director will cause any further activity to cease regarding the complaint.
  2. b) The Complainant will be notified in writing of the Executive Director’s decision.


5.4 Complaints in Writing

  1. a) It is preferred that all complaints be received in writing, which includes via electronic means.
  2. b) If the Complainant is unable to put their complaint in writing, or the circumstances dictate that a written complaint is not viable, the Executive Director will have the oral complaint reduced to writing and document that the Complainant has confirmed the accuracy of the complaint.


5.5 External Investigator(s)

  1. a ) In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate for external investigators be engaged to conduct a complaint investigation.
  2. b) The Executive Director may decide to engage an external investigator(s) when the complaint involves the conduct of an Employee other than the Executive Director, an operational policy, a procedure or service delivery allegation.
  3. c) The Chair, in consultation with the Human Resources and Nominations Committee may decide to engage an external investigator(s) when the complaint involves the conduct of the Executive Director, the conduct of a Director of the Board of Directors or a member of the Board Committee, or a policy of the Board of Directors.


5.6 Employee Conduct Complaints

  1. a) Complaints about Employee conduct (excluding volunteers and contractors) are considered personnel matters.
  2. b) If after an investigation, it is determined that the Employee’s conduct warrants discipline, such action will be subject to The Lighthouse’s Human Resource management policies and procedures.
  3. c) Complainants will not be provided with the details of any disciplinary action taken against an Employee but rather that appropriate action has been taken.


5.7 Time to Render a Decision

  1. a) Subject to the complexity of the allegations in a complaint, The Lighthouse will strive to render a decision on a complaint within sixty (60) days of receipt of a complaint.
  2. b) If the event that the decision cannot be made within sixty (60) days, the Executive Director will ensure that the Complainant is updated on a regular basis as to the status of the complaint and not less than monthly.


5.8 Modified to “Chair” as Required

  1. a) When complaint allegations require the Chair to have carriage of the matter, the references to the “Executive Director” in this Policy apply to the Chair.


Part 6:Process

6.1 Responsibility to Investigate

  1. a) All complaints will be forwarded to the Executive Director.
  2. b) Complaints regarding the conduct of Employees will be directed to the manager the Employee directly reports to, or who is responsible for managing a contractor’s contract.
  3. c) Complaints regarding program service delivery matters will be forwarded to the Director of Services for review and, if deemed necessary, investigation.
  4. d) Complaints regarding the administration of The Lighthouse including, but not limited to, human resource practices, communication strategies, financial practices, tendering processes, etc., will be retained by the Executive Director for review and, if deemed necessary, investigation.
  5. e) Complaints regarding the conduct of the Executive Director, Directors or members of Board Committees, and Board policies will be forwarded to the Chair for review and, if deemed necessary, investigation.


6.2 Notification to Complainant

  1. a) The Executive Director will ensure that the Complainant is advised, in writing, within three (3) business days of receipt of the complaint that the complaint has been received.
  2. b) The notification will advise the Complainant of the complaint process.


6.3 Early Resolution

  1. a) If after reviewing the allegations of the complaint and making further inquiries with the Complainant, it is determined that the complaint can be resolved without an investigation, the matter may be resolved informally.
  2. b) For a complaint to be resolved informally, the Complainant must agree with the resolution.


6.4 Investigation

  1. a) If a decision is made to proceed to investigate the Complainant’s allegations, the Complainant will be advised in writing that an investigation will commence.
  2. b) If the Complaint makes an allegation(s) against an Employee, the Employee will be notified, in writing, that they are a Respondent to a complaint and provided with a summary of the complaint allegation(s).
  3. c) The investigation will be carried out in an impartial manner with the intent to gather all relevant facts to determine if the allegations in the complaint can be substantiated or if they are unsubstantiated.
  4. d) Prior to finalizing an investigation, the Complainant and Respondent will be provided with a summary of the investigation findings and proposed recommendations, if any, for review and comment.


6.5 File Notes and Documents

  1. a) Investigation notes generated and any documents (including photographs and other images) gathered will be securely stored either in a hardcopy or electronic file.


6.6 Decision

  1. a) Upon completion of the investigation, the manager having carriage of the complaint will provide their decision, in writing, to the Complainant and the Respondent, if any, including the reasons for their decision.


Part 7:Appeal Process

7.1 Right to Appeal

  1. a) A Complainant or a Respondent who is dissatisfied with the application of the Complaint Policy or process, or believes an error was made in the complaint decision, may appeal the decision.
  2. b) A person wishing to file an appeal will do so in writing documenting the specific allegations of the original complaint process and/or decision that is being complained of.
  3. c) In the event the person is not able to provide the nature of their appeal in writing as set out in 7.1(b), The Lighthouse will assist the person in documenting their allegations.


7.2 Appeal Levels

  1. a) A complaint handled in the first instance by a manager or the Director of Services will be appealed to the Executive Director.
  2. b) A complaint handled by the Executive Director in the first instance or in response to an appeal, and a complaint handled by the Chair, will be appealed to the Board of Directors as a whole.


7.3 Final Decision

  1. a) The decision of the Board of Directors is final.


7.4 Appeal Process

  1. a) The Lighthouse will strive to complete an appeal under review by the Executive Director within thirty (30) days of receipt of the appeal request.
  2. b )The Lighthouse will strive to complete an appeal under review by the Board of Directors within sixty (60) days of receipt of the appeal request.
  3. c) In conducting an appeal, the Reviewer will review the complaint file and may make additional inquiries or further investigate.
  4. d) The person filing the appeal, as well as any Respondent to the original complaint, will be kept apprised of the appeal process and no less than monthly until such time as the appeal review has been completed.


Part 8: File Retention

8.1 General

  1. a) Files will generally be retained for the current year, plus two (2) years unless the matter is subject to, or expected to be subject to, a legal proceeding.
  2. b) Complaint files subject to or expected to be subject to a legal proceeding will be retained for a minimum of seven (7) years or until such time as all appeal periods are exhausted.


8.2 Employee Conduct Complaints

  1. a) Files relating to Employee conduct complaints will be retained in accordance with the Human Resource records policy.


Part 9: Reporting

9.1 Record of Complaints

  1. a) The Executive Director will maintain a record of all complaints received, which will be used to identify common and/or recurring complaints and themes.


9.2 Annual Reporting

  1. a) The Executive Director will annually report to the Board of Directors on complaints received, including:
        1. the nature of the complaints
        2. the manner the complaint was resolved (i.e., frivolous/vexatious, informal resolution, investigation, abandoned)
        3. the date received and resolved


Part 10: Compliance

Individuals who fail to comply with this Policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of their employment, removal from the Board of Directors and, when warranted, legal proceedings.


To make a complaint, please contact:

Anne Smith, Executive Director:
Business Phone 905-337-2333 x 229

Lisa Norton (Board Chair):
Cell 416-312-8409

Date of Approval: August, 2020


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