Making a complaint about a member
The Code of Conduct for Members of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada (Code of Conduct) requires that members of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada (SST) follow high standards of conduct.
In some situations, you can make a complaint if you feel that a member has violated the Code of Conduct.
The complaint process can’t change the member’s decision(s) in your appeal, even if the member violated the Code of Conduct. Only the Appeal Division can overturn a General Division decision. Only the federal courts can overturn an Appeal Division decision.
Who can make a complaint?
Anyone can make a complaint.
What types of complaints we can deal with
We can deal with a complaint about a member’s conduct or behaviour that violated the Code of Conduct if it's unrelated to their decision(s) in an appeal.
Examples of behaviour that could violate the Code of Conduct include:
- being dishonest or disrespectful
- issuing a decision well beyond the expected timelines without a good reason
- sharing confidential information
- participating in political activities
What types of complaints we cannot deal with
We cannot deal with complaints about a member’s decision in an appeal or the way they reached their decision. This means that we won’t accept a complaint about:
- a member’s procedural decision
- whether the proceedings were fair
- a member’s findings of fact or their interpretation of the law
- whether a member was biased (not impartial or neutral) in making their decision
- the outcome of your appeal
These types of concerns should be raised elsewhere as follows:
- If your appeal is still active, you should raise your concern directly with the member as soon as possible. If your concern is about bias, the member will decide whether they should continue hearing your appeal.
- If your General Division appeal is over, you can start an appeal at the Appeal Division.
- If your Appeal Division appeal is over, you can apply for judicial review at the Federal Court or the Federal Court of Appeal.
Other complaints that aren’t covered by this complaint process include:
- A complaint against a member who's no longer with the SST.
- A complaint that isn’t against a member (for example, complaints about SST staff, Service Canada, or the appeal system generally).
- A complaint that doesn’t raise a possible violation of the Code of Conduct.
- A complaint that's been addressed in another forum.
- A complaint made in bad faith (sometimes called vexatious or frivolous complaints).
- A complaint that misuses the complaint process (for example, if the person is seeking to change a member’s decision).
- A complaint about the chairperson’s decisions made under the complaint process (for example, a decision not to accept or investigate a complaint, or a decision that there was or wasn’t a violation of the Code of Conduct).
When to make a complaint
You can make your complaint at any time. We won’t usually investigate a complaint until your proceedings at the SST are over. This is so that your complaint doesn’t affect the appeal process. It’s also because your allegations might be addressed during the appeal process.
This means that, if the complaint is about a member of the General Division, we won’t start an investigation until the Appeal Division has decided the case, or until the time to appeal has passed. If the complaint is about a member of the Appeal Division, we won’t start an investigation until the Appeal Division has decided the case.
How to make a complaint
You can make a complaint by providing the following information:
- your name
- the member’s name
- The case file number (if any)
- A description of the member’s behaviour
- the section or sections of the Code of Conduct that you believe the member violated
Give as much detail as possible about the complaint. If we need more information to better understand your complaint, we’ll contact you.
The SST doesn’t accept anonymous complaints. We may agree to keep your identity from the member who's the subject of the complaint if you ask us to. We’ll do that only if we can still investigate the complaint in a way that’s fair.
Send your complaint by email to SST.CHAIRPERSON-PRESIDENCE.TSS@canada.gc.ca or by mail to the following address:
Office of the Chairperson
Social Security Tribunal of Canada
PO Box 9812
Ottawa, ON K1G 6S3
If you want to submit your complaint a different way, or if you need an accommodation to participate fully in the complaint process, contact us as soon as possible.
How we handle a complaint
We’ll deal with the complaint thoroughly and as quickly as possible. We’ll also handle it in a way that’s fair to the person making the complaint and to the member who's the subject of the complaint.
We’ll let you know when we receive your complaint. The chairperson will review it. The chairperson may:
- decide not to accept the complaint if it falls outside the scope of the complaint process
- ask you to get back in touch after the appeal proceedings are over
- investigate the complaint or ask a vice-chairperson to do so
- send the complaint to another person to investigate, such as an external investigator
If the complaint is going to be investigated, we’ll give a copy of the complaint to the member who's the subject of the complaint. We’ll share a copy with the member only after they’ve made their decision in the appeal. The member will have an opportunity to respond to the complaint.
The investigator will look into the complaint and prepare a report with their findings of fact (what happened). Investigations will be conducted in a way that’s fair and flexible. 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 won’t be needed in every case.
The chairperson’s decision
The chairperson will decide whether there was a violation of the Code of Conduct.
The chairperson will give you their decision in writing, with reasons. They’ll also give their decision and reasons to the member who's the subject of the complaint and their vice-chairperson.
If the chairperson decides that the Code of Conduct was violated, they’ll also decide what actions to take. The chairperson may consider:
- whether the member has ever violated the Code of Conduct before
- the seriousness of the misconduct
- any other relevant factors and circumstances
The chairperson cannot overturn or change a member’s decision.
The chairperson’s decision is final. Nobody else can review it.
A complaint against the chairperson
If a complaint is made against the chairperson, the complaint will be directed to a vice-chairperson to determine if it falls within the scope of the complaint process. If it does, we’ll appoint an external investigator. The investigator will decide whether the chairperson violated the Code of Conduct. We’ll give the report to you.
If the investigator finds that the chairperson violated the Code of Conduct, we’ll share the investigator’s report and decision with the minister responsible for the SST.
The SST is accountable to the Canadian public. This includes explaining how we deal with complaints under the Code of Conduct. We publish on our website a summary of complaints that we investigate under this process, along with the findings once the complaint process is completed. We also publish a summary of some complaints that aren’t investigated.
Summaries don’t identify the person who made the complaint, the member, or any other individuals involved in the complaint.