The Housing Secretariat strives to operate in a professional and courteous manner. It is also focused on treating its partners in an equitable, transparent and timely manner. In keeping with these principles, the Housing Secretariat has established this complaints policy to provide external individuals and organizations, as well as, City divisions with a clear procedure to follow when lodging a complaint about the Housing Secretariat. Equally, the policy provides the Housing Secretariat and its staff with a clear process for handling and resolving complaints.
- Complaints are dealt with promptly and resolved as quickly as possible
- Staff treat complaints as confidential and protect complainant’s privacy
- Complaint investigations are fair, impartial and respectful to parties involved
- Complainants are advised of their options to escalate their complaint if they are dissatisfied with its treatment or outcome
- Complainants are provided clear and understandable reasons for how decisions on the complaint were made
- Updates are provided to complainants during investigations
- Complaints are used to assist in improving services, policies and procedures
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with the Housing Secretariat’s policies, procedures, employees or quality of service. Examples include, but are not limited to, the perception of:
- failure to do something agreed to do
- failure to observe policies or procedures
- unacceptable delay
- staff error
- lack of access to information or services (i.e. language or disability barriers)
- discourteous actions/statements by staff
- fraud such as the use of IT resources for purposes unrelated to City business; theft of cash or City equipment; false benefit claims (i.e. sick leave); abuse of work hours; vendor misconduct or conflict of interest; misstated or misleading information to decision maker and false claims and submissions by program recipients.
A complaint may be received verbally, in-person, by telephone or in writing by hand delivery, mail, or email.
Receipt of Complaint
Written complaints are date-stamped and immediately referred to the staff person involved, the manager and the director. Receipt of the complaint is acknowledged within 48 hours by the Housing Secretariat in the same medium as the complaint (e.g. letter, email). This reply includes a tracking number (which appears on the complaint form) and the following:
Housing Secretariat collects personal information on this form under the legal authority of the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 169, Officials, City, Article I, City Manager, sections 169-1.1, 169-1.2, and 169-1.4. The information you provide will be used to investigate the complaint and may be used for contact purposes related to the investigation. Questions about this collection can be directed to the Housing Stability Services – Operations Support Lead, Housing Secretariat, Metro Hall, 6th Floor, 55 John Street, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3C6 or by telephone at 416-392-4126.
Complaints not within the Housing Secretariat’s jurisdiction are forwarded to the appropriate division and the complainant is advised.
Anonymous complaints are referred to the manager and director.
Record of the Complaint
During complaint escalation, staff maintain a record at all stages including:
- name of the complainant
- details of the complaint
- communications with complainant and other parties
- the decision and action taken, and
- the complainant’s response.
Investigations may be conducted during the second and third step outlined below. The investigation may include:
- Discussion(s) with the complainant to clarify the complaint, confirm common understanding, clarify outcome sought and explain complaint procedures.
- Discussion with staff involved (with union representative, if applicable).
- Review of background information such as policies and procedures, previous written communications and other documentation. Obtain and review other expert opinions or perspectives.
At each stage of escalation, it should be determined whether the previous investigation has been adequate.
- The staff member receiving the complaint directs the complainant to the Housing Secretariat complaints policy for more information and offers to provide a Complaint Tracking Form.
- If the complainant declines, the staff member fills out the form and forwards it to the manager.
- The staff member involved in the complaint should attempt to resolve it, with input from his or her manager and, if necessary, the director.
- If the complainant asks to be referred to the manager, the staff person should immediately comply.
- If the complaint concerns the conduct of a staff person or if it cannot be resolved, staff should immediately refer it to the manager and inform the complainant of the manager’s name and contact information.
- If the complaint is made directly to management, the staff member involved shall be notified.
- Management reviews the complaint, and may attempt to resolve it immediately with the involvement of the staff member.
- If further investigation is required, the manager, with the involvement of the director, records the complaint and contact details, investigates the complaint to determine its validity and proposes a resolution (see Investigations below).
- The manager may request that a verbal complaint be put in writing, especially if it involves a serious or complex matter.
- For all verbal and written complaints requiring investigation, the manager indicates to the complainant when they will be contacted with a resolution or update.
- If not resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction, at the manager’s discretion or at the complainant’s request, it is referred to the director.
- The director reviews the complaint, and may attempt to resolve it immediately.
- If further investigation is required, the director records the complaint and contact details, investigates the complaint to determine its validity and proposes a resolution (see Investigations below).
- The director may request that a verbal complaint be put in writing, especially if it involves a serious or complex matter.
- For all verbal and written complaints requiring investigation, the director indicates to the complainant when he or she will be contacted with a resolution or update
If still not resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction, the Director or the complainant can refer it to the office of Ombudsman Toronto.
Examples of resolution types include, but are not limited to:
- Apology and/or completing action that should have been done;
- Apology and explaining action being taken to improve systems, procedures, or practice
- Apology and expediting the delayed action;
- Apology, explaining and correcting staff error or discourteous staff behaviour
- Apology and explaining actions to be taken to improve access to information or services
Notice of Resolution
- All complaints receive a written notice of resolution
- If investigation determines that the reasons for the complaint are not justified, and no further action is required, the complainant is notified
- If investigation determines that the complaint is justified, the complainant is notified of corrective action to be taken and any remedy proposed