About the Process

Generally, our complaint process involves three main stages. But not every human rights complaint goes through our process in the same way. A complaint may go through one or several stages before it is resolved. The order of these stages below can vary because every case is unique.

Stage 1: Filing a complaint

After a person, or group of people, confirms that they have the basis for a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, they can file their complaint online or by mail.

  • If they file online, they will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours.
  • If they send their complaint by mail, a confirmation letter or email will be sent within 3 business days of receiving it.

Once we receive the complaint, we review it to ensure that it meets all the necessary criteria of a human rights complaint. We may contact the person who filed the complaint ("the Complainant") to get more information to make their complaint more complete.

After we have reviewed the completed complaint, we will decide whether it is admissible. The Commission will notify the Complainant either way.

Once we have all the information we need from the Complainant, we will contact them within 20 days to confirm if we can accept the complaint. If we cannot accept the complaint, we will inform the Complainant about other organizations that may be able to assist them.

Stage 2: Informing the Respondent and What Happens Next

Many people's first concern is at what point the person or organization they are complaining about will find out about the complaint. They are "the Respondent", and we inform them in writing about the complaint once we decide to accept it.

We will also ask the Respondent to fill out a Response Form. They will have 30 days to send the Complainant and the Commission their completed form. Once the Complainant receives the Response Form from the Respondent, they will have 30 days to send a Reply Form to the Commission and the Respondent.

All of this information will help us determine if we should offer the Complainant and the Respondent ("the parties") mediation, which we will facilitate. Mediation is voluntary and confidential. It gives both parties the opportunity to explain their side of the issue and to try to resolve the concerns that led to the complaint. We will schedule and provide mediation services at no cost to the parties.

We provide 4 months for parties to complete the mediation.

If mediation works, both sides will sign a settlement agreement. This agreement would state what you and the Respondent have committed to do to resolve the dispute.

Stage 3: Referral to Human Rights Commissioner(s)

If mediation does not work, or if either party refuses mediation, we will advise them that the mediation process is over and that the file will proceed to assessment.

During our complaint assessment process, a Human Rights Officer will consider whether there is evidence to support the claims made by the Complainant in their Complaint Form. This includes reviewing the information that was included in the Respondent's Response Form and the Complainant's Reply Form. The Human Rights Officer might also request additional information from one or both parties. The Human Rights Officer will prepare a Report for Decision. The Commissioner(s) will review the report when deciding what will happen with the complaint.

We will contact both parties, in writing and within 6 months to share the Report for Decision.

At that time, both parties will have the opportunity to provide comments on the report. Once we have received comments from the parties, we will send the Report for Decision along with the parties' comments to our Commissioner(s) within 5 business days.

Our Commissioner(s), who are appointed by the Governor in Council to make decisions on human rights complaints, will review both the Report for Decision and any comments that were submitted by the parties.

After analyzing the report, the Commissioner(s) will make one of the following decisions:

  • to dismiss the complaint;
  • to send the complaint to conciliation;
  • to defer their decision and request more information and further analysis; or
  • to refer the complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Decisions made by the Commissioner(s) are final.

Our Commissioner(s) will make their decision within 2 weeks.

Next, we will communicate the decision to the parties in writing, within 10 business days.

Learn More

Our Service commitments

If you are involved in a complaint with the Commission, either as a Complainant or a Respondent, this section outlines our commitments to you during each stage of our process.

We are committed to being transparent and accountable. Our service standard is our commitment to a specific level of service you can expect under normal circumstances.

Our commitment to you

We are committed to providing you with quality service.

When you access our services, we will:

  • Explain clearly how the complaints process works
  • Tailor our approach to your needs
  • Treat you with courtesy and respect
  • Protect your personal information
  • Respect our service standard

How you can help us serve you better

To help us serve you better, please:

  • Always include the complaint file number, and provide all requested information and details as soon as possible after we contact you.
  • Keep a copy of all information related to your complaint, including relevant emails, letters, notices, policies, etc.
  • Let us know of any changes to your situation, such as changes to your contact information.
  • Tell us if you need special assistance.
  • If you choose to have someone represent you, tell us their name and contact information.
  • Treat our staff with courtesy and respect.

Read our Complaint Rules

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