Do you need help defending your rights or those of a loved one? Here are some resources that can help you ensure your rights are respected.

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT

THIS IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION

General principles

If you believe your rights or those of a loved one have been violated, there are a number of ways to have your voice heard. Generally, before making a complaint, you should start by contacting the manager of the person you dealt with. If the situation is not resolved, you can file a complaint with the appropriate authority for your situation.

Turn to an association

 If you think your rights have been infringed, first contact your local association. It can provide information and guide you in the right direction to ensure your rights are respected.

Informing your local association of your efforts also helps it better represent everyone with an intellectual disability and their families within their territory. 

For cases a local association is not equipped to handle or that represent a provincial interest, the Quebec Society for Intellectual Disability can intervene and support you in a complaint. It is up to your local association to contact the Society.

Fin a local association

Turn to the OPHQ

Keep in mind that the mandate of the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec (OPHQ) is to support people with disabilities in their efforts to request services and assert their rights.

While the OPHQ is not, strictly speaking, an advocacy organization, it is still a good idea to contact it for information and for an opinion about your situation. The OPHQ can also support you in some of your efforts.

Visit the OPHQ’s website


COMPLAINTS withIN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

General information

Every institution in the health care and social services system has a Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner. If you are not satisfied after speaking with a manager, you should file a complaint with the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner.

Who can file a complaint?

Any user can file a complaint. If a user has legal representatives, they can fill a complaint on the user’s behalf. Heirs can also file a complaint in the event of the user’s death.

People who take part in a research study in an institution can also file a complaint with the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner.

What can you file a complaint about?

Complaints can relate to the right to receive health care and social services, and the quality of those services.

Under the law, everyone has rights:

  • “Every person is entitled to be informed of the existence of the health and social services and resources available in his community and of the conditions governing access to such services and resources.”
  • “is entitled to receive the care required by his condition.”
  • “is entitled to receive, with continuity and in a personalized and safe manner, health services and social services which are scientifically, humanly and socially appropriate.”
  • “is entitled to choose the professional or the institution from whom or which he wishes to receive health services and social services.”

Users are also:

  • “entitled to be informed of his state of health and welfare and to be acquainted with the various options open to him and the risks and consequences generally associated with each option.”
  • entitled not to “be made to undergo care of any nature, whether for examination, specimen taking, treatment or any other intervention, except with his consent” and entitled “to participate in any decision affecting his state of health or welfare.”
  • “entitled to be accompanied and assisted by the person of his choice when he wishes to obtain information or take steps in relation to any service provided by an institution or on its behalf or by any professional practising in a centre operated by an institution.”

Anyone who believes their rights have been violated may file a complaint.

Who can be the subject of a complaint?

A complaint can target different providers in the health care and social services network. You can file a complaint against:

  • A Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) or a Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS), including rehabilitation centres that were absorbed in 2015.
  • A community organization with a contract with the CISSS or the CIUSSS.
  • A private nursing home with an agreement with a CISSS or CIUSSS (for example, an intermediary or family resource, or a private senior’s residence).
  • An organization, company or person an institution uses for service delivery.
  • A physician, dentist or pharmacist.

The complaint process

1. Contact the Users Committee

To put the odds on your side when you file a complaint, it is a good idea to contact the institution’s Users Committee before going to see the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner.

Every institution has a Users Committee. These committees have the mandate to “inform users of their rights and obligations,” as well as to “defend the collective rights and interests of users, or, upon a user’s request, their rights and interests as a user of the institution or any other competent authority.” The Users Committee must also “accompany and assist, upon request, a user in any process they undertake, including when they want to file a complaint.”

It is always best to consult the Users Committee for help before filing a complaint with the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner. Users Committees are usually able to help draft a complaint.

2. Contact a Centre d’assistance et d’accompagnement aux plaintes (CAAP)

You can also contact a Centre d’assistance et d’accompagnement aux plaintes (CAAP) to help draft your complaint.

The mission of the CAAPs is to assist and guide users through the complaint process with health care and social services institutions. CAAP services are free and confidential.

CAAPs do not have the mandate to defend users’ rights. But they can help you:

  • get information, including about the complaint process
  • clarify the reasons for and draft the complaint if needed
  • guide you through each step in the process, particularly with the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner or Québec Ombudsman.

Consult the list of CAAPs

3. File a complaint with the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner

After receiving help from a Users Committee or a CAAP, you should be ready to file a complaint with the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner. To do this, you need to describe the situation and document your complaint. For example, you should establish the chronology of events, as well as list the people involved in the case. You do not need to base your complaint on specific articles of law.

Once your complaint is filed, either in person, by mail or by email, the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner will acknowledge receipt. The Act stipulates that the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner must process the complaint and inform you of his or her conclusions within 45 days.

Filing a complaint against a physician, pharmacist or dentist

If you file a complaint against a physician, pharmacist or dentist, the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner will forward your complaint to a medical examiner, who will study your case. The medical examiner has 45 days to respond to you.

If you are unsatisfied with the medical examiner’s conclusions, you can ask that your complaint be re-examined by a review committee.

You can also file a complaint with the professional order.

After the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner has studied your complaint, he or she will render a decision. The Commissioner may dismiss your complaint if it considered unfounded or issue recommendations to the departments concerned to correct the situation.

The Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner does not have enforcement power. Recommendations are first and foremost suggestions.

If you are satisfied with the recommendations of the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner, and the parties concerned by the complaint correct the situation, you have successfully defended your rights. Otherwise, you need to turn to another authority.

4. As needed: contact the Québec Ombudsman

If all previous efforts have failed, you can file a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman. This process is confidential and free. The Québec Ombudsman is the final, non-judicial resource to ensure your rights are respected.

N.B.:

  • Under some circumstances, the Québec Ombudsman may intervene directly without you having to go through the previous steps. This is the case if the situation is sufficiently urgent or if you already have a negative history with the Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner. However, this is done exceptionally and should NOT be your first recourse.
  • You can make an anonymous report to the Québec Ombudsman, if someone’s rights have been violated and you want to protect your identity.

As with complaints to Local Service Quality and Complaints Commissioners, it is a good idea to get help drafting your complaint and properly documenting the basis for it.

Upon receiving a complaint, the Québec Ombudsman reviews the case and decides whether an investigation is warranted. If there is an investigation, a decision is generally rendered within 60 days.

If the Québec Ombudsman finds that rights have been infringed, he or she makes recommendations to the actors concerned. Recommendations have no legal weight, but they are generally followed.

If the Québec Ombudsman does not recognize a violation of rights, at that point your only recourse is political or legal. Contact your local association to find out more.


COMPLAINTS UNRELATED TO THE HEALTH CARE AND SOCIAL SERVICES NETWORK

If you believe that your rights or those of your loved ones have been violated by an organization or individual, you can file a complaint with a number of bodies.

Discrimination, harassment or exploitation

If you or a loved one have been a victim of discrimination, harassment or exploitation because of a disability, you should contact the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ). The CDPDJ’s help is free.

Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse

The CDPDJ can advise you on your rights and how to ensure they are respected. After studying your complaint, the CDPDJ will decide whether to investigate. Depending on the situation, the CDPDJ may propose different ways to settle a conflict:

  • Arbitration: the CDPDJ withdraws from the complaint and transfers it to an arbitrator for a decision. Arbitration is a way to settle a conflict without turning to the courts. The arbitrator’s decision is final and binding.
  • Mediation with the help of the CDPDJ: the parties are put in touch with a mediator who helps them find common ground. Mediation is a way to settle a conflict without turning to the courts.
  • If there is sufficient evidence and a solid case, you can file a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal.

If the CDPDJ recommends filing a petition with the Human Rights Tribunal, one of its attorneys will handle your case and argue for you. A judgement will them be issued.

To find out more about how the CDPDJ processes complaints, visit its website.

Human Rights Tribunal

The Human Rights Tribunal is part of Quebec’s judicial system. It handles all complaints presented by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse.

The Tribunal’s decisions are binding, but may be appealed to the Québec Court of Appeal with the permission of one of its judges.

For more information about the Human Rights Tribunal, visit its website.

Other cases

In certain rare cases, you can appeal directly to the courts to assert your rights.

For example, you may use civil recourse for any case. For more information, consult an attorney. The Vos droits en santé website also has information about some of these situations.

If you have reasonable grounds to believe that a person’s safety or life is in imminent danger, call 9-1-1.

In any other situation in which you think a person’s safety is potentially compromised or his or her rights have been violated, you can contact the Québec Ombudsman. You can make an anonymous report.


DIRECTORY OF RESOURCES

Voici quelques liens qui pourraient être utiles pour le processus de plainte.