Social Security Tribunal of Canada

Process for making a complaint about a member

Purpose

The Code of Conduct for Members of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada (Code of Conduct) requires that members of the Social Security Tribunal (Tribunal) follow high standards of conduct.

This document explains how to make a complaint when you feel that a member has behaved contrary to the Code of Conduct.

Who can make a complaint?

Anyone may make a complaint. This includes any party to a Tribunal appeal, a representative, witness, interpreter, Tribunal staff, an individual on behalf of an organization, or a member of the public.

What types of complaints does this process cover?

This complaint process deals with whether a member’s conduct (or behaviour) before, during or after your hearing, was in breach of the Code of Conduct.

What types of complaints are not covered under this process?

This complaint process does not deal with a member’s decision. A complaint under this process cannot be about what a member decides in a case or whether the member’s decision went against you.

If you think a member’s decision was wrong or if you feel you were denied a fair hearing, you can file an appeal at the Appeal Division (concerning a General Division member’s decision). You can apply for judicial review at the Federal Court or the Federal Court of Appeal (concerning an Appeal Division member’s decision). This is what the law requires.

A member’s conduct could give rise to both a complaint under this process and an appeal. For example, if you think the member did not make sure that you had a chance to be heard during your hearing, this might be cause for a complaint and an appeal.

How to make a complaint

Simply provide the Tribunal with the following information:

  • Your name
  • The name of the member
  • The case file number (if any)
  • A description of the member’s behaviour that you believe is contrary to the Code of Conduct
  • Any other information that supports your complaint

Send your complaint to the Tribunal by email to SST.CHAIRPERSON-PRESIDENCE.TSS@canada.gc.ca or to the following address: 

Office of the Chairperson
Social Security Tribunal of Canada
PO Box 9812
Station T
Ottawa, ON  K1G 6S3

If you need an alternate way to submit your complaint, or if you need other accommodations to participate in the complaint process, please let us know. 

The Tribunal does not accept anonymous complaints. However, if you request it we may agree to keep your identity from the member who is the subject of the complaint. In this situation, only the Chairperson and the Vice-chairperson will know your identity.

We will only keep your identity from the member if we can still investigate the complaint in a way that is fair. If the Chairperson decides that we cannot conduct a fair investigation into the complaint unless the member is told who is making the complaint, we will let you know. We will then ask you to confirm if you still wish to pursue the complaint. If you choose not to pursue the complaint, we will close the complaint.

How we handle a complaint

We will deal with the complaint thoroughly, as quickly as possible, and in a way that is fair to both the individual making the complaint and the member who is the subject of the allegation.

When we receive a complaint, we will let you know we received it and keep you updated about the status of your complaint.

We will give a copy of the complaint to the Chairperson of the Tribunal and to the Vice-chairperson of the Division or Section where the member works.

The Chairperson will review the complaint and decide if the complaint:

  1. is about the conduct of a member (and not about a member’s decision in an appeal);
    and
  2. is serious enough to proceed under this complaint process (for example, we will not deal with a complaint that is made in bad faith);
    or
  3. should be dealt with through a different process.

The Chairperson may:

  1. dismiss the complaint if it is not related to the conduct of a member, or it is not serious enough to proceed with an investigation;
  2. refuse to deal with the complaint if it would be better dealt with through a different process;
  3. investigate the complaint or request that the Vice-chairperson do so; or
  4. refer the complaint to another person to investigate, such as an independent external investigator.

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If the complaint is going to be investigated (internally or externally), we will give a copy of the complaint to the member who is the subject of the complaint. We will share a copy of the complaint with the member only after he or she has made their decision on the appeal. The member will have an opportunity to respond to the complaint.

If an external investigator is engaged, the investigator will be independent and impartial. The Tribunal would share the terms of reference for the external investigator with the complainant and the member who is the subject of the complaint.

The investigator will investigate the complaint in accordance with this process and the Code of Conduct and prepare a report. Investigations will be conducted flexibly and fairly. For example, an investigation may include interviews with the person who made the complaint and the member who is the subject of the complaint. But interviews may not be needed in every case.

Decision of the Chairperson

The Chairperson will decide whether there was a breach of the Code of Conduct.

The Chairperson will inform you, the member who is the subject of the complaint and the Vice-chairperson whether the Code of Conduct was breached. The Chairperson will provide reasons for the decision in writing.

If the Chairperson decides that the Code of Conduct was breached, then the Chairperson will also decide what actions to take to deal with the breach of the Code of Conduct. In deciding what action to take, the Chairperson may consider whether the member has ever breached the Code of Conduct before, the seriousness of the misconduct, or any other relevant factors and circumstances.

A complaint against the Chairperson

If a complaint is made against the Chairperson, the Tribunal will appoint an independent external investigator to deal with the complaint fairly and transparently. This includes deciding whether the Chairperson breached the Code of Conduct or not. The Chairperson will share the investigator’s report and decision with the Minister responsible for the Tribunal.

Public reports

The Tribunal is accountable to Canadians. This includes explaining how we deal with complaints under the Code of Conduct. We will publish on our website a summary of each complaint that we deal with under this process, along with the findings, once the complaint process is completed. The summary will not contain information identifying the person who complained, the member or any other individuals involved in the complaint.

Inquiries

To submit a complaint or ask a question about the complaints process, please contact the Office of the Chairperson.

Mailing address

Office of the Chairperson
Social Security Tribunal of Canada
PO Box 9812
Station T
Ottawa, ON  K1G 6S3

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