Commissioner's Directive

Victim Complaints

PURPOSE

  • To provide a fair and expeditious complaint process for victims who are of the opinion that their rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights have been infringed or denied by the Correctional Service of Canada

APPLICATION

  • Applies to staff involved in the direct or indirect provision of services to victims, including the sharing of information with victims and the consideration of information provided by victims in offenders' case management

RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. The Senior Deputy Commissioner:
    1. is responsible for implementing a victim complaint mechanism for the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) pursuant to subsection 25(3) of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, that provides for:
      1. a review of complaints involving alleged infringements or denials of rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights
      2. ii.the power to make recommendations to remedy such infringements or denials
      3. the obligation to notify victims of the result of those reviews and of the recommendations, if any were made
    2. has been designated as the decision-making authority with respect to responses to victim complaints pursuant to subsection 25(1) of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights
    3. will normally render a decision with regard to admissible complaints within 25 working days of receipt.
  2. The Assistant Commissioner, Communications and Engagement:
    1. has the authority to develop guidelines that must be followed with reference to the victim complaint process
    2. will ensure that victims are informed that they may file a complaint with the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime if they are not satisfied with CSC's response to their complaint
    3. will ensure a collaborative relationship and a fluent exchange of information with the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.
  3. Regional Deputy Commissioners or relevant sector head who receive a request from the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division to provide input into a response to a formal victim complaint will respond within 10 working days of receipt of the request.
  4. The Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will:
    1. assist registered and non-registered victims to use the complaint process
    2. provide the complainant with an acknowledgement within five working days of receiving a formal written complaint at NHQ
    3. log and track each formal complaint until its closure
    4. review the complaint and determine whether it meets the admissibility criteria
    5. request information from CSC offices of primary interest in order to analyze the complaint
    6. provide a written notification to the complainant in cases where more than 25 working days are required to deal adequately with the complaint. Such notification will be sent to the complainant within 25 working days of receipt of the complaint at NHQ and will include the reason(s) for the delay and the date by which the complainant should receive a formal response
    7. meet the reporting requirements as determined by CSC and Public Safety.
  5. Any CSC employee:
    1. to whom a victim expresses his/her dissatisfaction should attempt to resolve the issue by discussing it with the victim, where appropriate and within the parameters of his/her role. If such discussions are not possible or appropriate in the circumstances or are not sufficient to resolve the victim's concerns, the employee will offer both of the following options to the victim:
      1. the employee can ask relevant staff or manager to contact the victim to discuss his/her concerns and try to resolve them informally
      2. the victim may file a formal complaint pursuant to subsection 25(1) of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, if he/she believes that any of his/her rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights have been infringed or denied by CSC, by calling CSC's toll-free number: 1‑866‑806‑2275 (then pressing "0" to leave a message)
    2. should ensure the above contact with the victim is documented in a Statement/Observation Report (SOR) (CSC/SCC 0875) to be forwarded to the Victim Services Unit
    3. who receives a formal written complaint from a victim will forward the complaint to the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division at NHQ within two working days.

PROCEDURES

Admissibility Criteria

  1. To be considered as a formal complaint for the purpose of this policy, the victim's concerns must be communicated to CSC's Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division in one of the following ways:
    1. using the Victim Complaint Form (that will be sent to victims upon request), or
    2. in a letter or other type of written correspondence specifying that the victim wishes to file a complaint pursuant to subsection 25(1) of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
  2. The admissibility criteria for formal complaints, which must all be met, are the following:
    1. the complainant meets the definition of victim pursuant to the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (see Definitions in Annex A)
    2. the complainant is present in Canada or is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
    3. the offender was under CSC's jurisdiction at the time of the complaint or of the occurrence complained of
    4. the matter that is the subject of the complaint falls under CSC's jurisdiction
    5. the complaint relates to at least one of the following rights pursuant to the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (see Annex B), which must be exercised through the mechanisms provided by law:
      1. right to information
      2. right to protection
      3. right to participation
      4. right to restitution.

Responding to Inadmissible Complaints

  1. Where a complaint does not meet all of the above admissibility criteria, the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will send a written notification to the complainant within 14 days of receipt of the complaint, specifying which admissibility criteria are not met.
  2. When it is believed that the concerns raised by the complainant fall under the jurisdiction of another agency of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will forward the written complaint to the appropriate agency for direct response to the victim and will advise the victim that the complaint has been forwarded.

Processing Admissible Complaints

  1. The Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will:
    1. review the complaint and analyze any infringements or denials of rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and relevant CSC policies
    2. consult offices of primary interest within CSC, as appropriate, prior to making recommendations to remedy any such infringements or denials
    3. prepare a written response for approval by the Senior Deputy Commissioner, notifying the complainant of the result of the review and of any recommendations
    4. forward the response to the complainant.

Deferral of a Complaint

  1. The Senior Deputy Commissioner may defer a complaint when:
    1. the victim decides to pursue an alternate legal remedy for the complaint in addition to CSC's formal complaint procedure
    2. there is an ongoing internal or external investigation into the matter that is the subject of the complaint.
  2. When a complaint is deferred, the victim will be notified in writing of the deferral and of the reasons for it, and, if possible, of the expected response date.

Decisions

  1. The decisions which may be rendered in response to an admissible victim complaint are outlined in Annex D.

Recommendations

  1. When a complaint is founded or founded in part, and recommendations are made, the response to the complainant will indicate the recommendations.
  2. On behalf of the Senior Deputy Commissioner, the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will follow up with the Office of Primary Interest (OPI) responsible for implementing any recommendations to confirm whether these have been implemented.

Closing a Complaint File

  1. Before closing a complaint file, the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will ensure:
    1. the response has been signed by the Senior Deputy Commissioner and sent out to the complainant
    2. any files with a "withdrawn" decision contain a signed withdrawal from the complainant
    3. any recommendations, the OPI responsible for implementing them and recommended implementation dates have been noted in the file
    4. internal follow-up is completed to confirm whether the recommendations (if any) have been implemented.

ENQUIRIES

  1. Strategic Policy Division
    National Headquarters
    Email: Gen-NHQPolicy-Politi@csc-scc.gc.ca

Commissioner,

Original Signed by:
Don Head

ANNEX A

CROSS-REFERENCES AND DEFINITIONS

CROSS-REFERENCES

CD 784 - Victim Engagement

CD 785 - Restorative Opportunities Program and Victim-Offender Mediation Services

DEFINITIONS

Relevant staff or manager : any person whom the employee considers in the best position to discuss the issue with the victim in the circumstances, e.g. the employee's supervisor, Victim Services Officer, Regional Victim Services Manager, Restorative Justice and Victim Services National Manager (where the complaint is related to the Restorative Opportunities program and victim-offender mediation services), Warden, District Director.

Victim : (pursuant to section 2 of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights) an individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss as the result of the commission or alleged commission of an offence.

Sections 3 and 4 and subsection 19(2) of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights also indicate the following:

3. Any of the following individuals may exercise a victim's rights under this Act if the victim is dead or incapable of acting on their own behalf:

(a) the victim's spouse or the individual who was at the time of the victim's death their spouse;

(b) the individual who is or was at the time of the victim's death, cohabiting with them in a conjugal relationship, having so cohabited for a period of at least one year;

(c) a relative or dependant of the victim;

(d) an individual who has in law or fact custody, or is responsible for the care or support, of the victim;

(e) an individual who has in law or fact custody, or is responsible for the care or support, of a dependant of the victim.

4. An individual is not a victim in relation to an offence, or entitled to exercise a victim's rights under this Act, if the individual is charged with the offence, found guilty of the offence or found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial in respect of the offence.

19(2) A victim is entitled to exercise their rights under this Act only if they are present in Canada or they are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

ANNEX B

SECTIONS OF THE CANADIAN VICTIMS BILL OF RIGHTS

OUTLINING THE RIGHTS GUARANTEED TO VICTIMS,

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

6. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about

(a) the criminal justice system and the role of victims in it;

(b) the services and programs available to them as a victim, including restorative justice programs; and

(c) their right to file a complaint for an infringement or denial of any of their rights under this Act.

7. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about

(a) the status and outcome of the investigation into the offence; and

(b) the location of proceedings in relation to the offence, when they will take place and their progress and outcome.

8. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about

(a) reviews under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act relating to the offender's conditional release and the timing and conditions of that release; and

(b) hearings held for the purpose of making dispositions, as defined in subsection 672.1(1) of the Criminal Code, in relation to the accused, if the accused is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial, and the dispositions made at those hearings.

RIGHT TO PROTECTION

9. Every victim has the right to have their security considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system.

10. Every victim has the right to have reasonable and necessary measures taken by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system to protect the victim from intimidation and retaliation.

11. Every victim has the right to have their privacy considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system.

12. Every victim has the right to request that their identity be protected if they are a complainant to the offence or a witness in proceedings relating to the offence.

13. Every victim has the right to request testimonial aids when appearing as a witness in proceedings relating to the offence.

RIGHT TO PARTICIPATION

14. Every victim has the right to convey their views about decisions to be made by appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system that affect the victim's rights under this Act and to have those views considered.

15. Every victim has the right to present a victim impact statement to the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system and to have it considered.

RIGHT TO RESTITUTION

16. Every victim has the right to have the court consider making a restitution order against the offender.

17. Every victim in whose favour a restitution order is made has the right, if they are not paid, to have the order entered as a civil court judgment that is enforceable against the offender.

ANNEX C

TIMEFRAMES

1. Any CSC employee who receives a formal written complaint from a victim will forward the complaint to the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division at NHQ within two working days.

2. The Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will provide the complainant with an acknowledgement within five working days of receiving a formal written complaint at NHQ.

3. Regional Deputy Commissioners or relevant sector head who receive a request from the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division to provide input into a response to a formal victim complaint will respond within 10 working days of receipt of the consultation request.

4. Where a complaint does not meet all of the above admissibility criteria, the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will send a written notification to the complainant within 14 days of receipt of the complaint, specifying which admissibility criteria are not met.

5. The Senior Deputy Commissioner will normally render a decision with regard to admissible complaints within 25 working days of receipt.

6. If more than 25 working days are required to deal adequately with the complaint, the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division will provide a written notification to the complainant within 25 working days of receipt of the complaint at NHQ. The notification will include the reason(s) for the delay and the date by which the complainant should receive a formal response.

ANNEX D

LIST OF DECISIONS

WITHDRAWN
In the case where a victim has notified the Restorative Justice and Victim Services Division in writing that he/she wishes to withdraw the complaint.
UNFOUNDED
Following a review and analysis of the complaint, it is determined that CSC's decision/action was in compliance with the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and legislative provisions/policy governing CSC's responsibilities to victims.
FOUNDED
Following a review and analysis of the complaint, it is determined that CSC's decision/action was not in compliance with the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and/or legislative provisions/policy governing CSC's responsibilities to victims.

The Senior Deputy Commissioner's response to the victim will indicate which right(s)/legislative provision(s) was not followed, offer an apology on behalf of CSC as appropriate, and indicate any recommendations arising from the review to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.
FOUNDED IN PART
A complaint will be founded in part when several issues are raised in the complaint, but not all of them are considered founded. The response to the complaint will follow the elements indicated in the above "founded" and "unfounded" sections, as relevant.
DEFERRED
An alternate legal remedy or investigation is ongoing regarding the subject of the complaint.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.