Dispute Resolution Operating Procedures

Are you filing a human rights complaint with the Commission? Are you aware of the rules and guidelines that must be followed in order for your complaint to be valid? The following document provides instructions on how to prepare and file your complaint with the Commission. It also provides a list of responsibilities for all parties involved.

Table of Contents

1 - Title 

2 - Preamble

3 - Definitions

4 - Purpose   

5 - Interpretation

6 - Application

7 - Commission Powers 

8 - Filing 

9 - Format of Documents  
10 - Computation of Time
11 - Responsibilities of Parties 
12 - Conduct of Interviews

13 - Mediation

14 - Settlement of Complaints

15 - Commission Decisions


1.1  These procedures may be cited as the Canadian Human Rights Commission Dispute Resolution Operating Procedures.


2.1  The Canadian Human Rights Commission deals with complaints made pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act, R.S., 1985, c  H-6. The Commission exercises a screening role with respect to disputes of a human rights nature in the federal jurisdiction and based on enumerated grounds in the Act.

2.2.  The Commission makes every effort to settle these disputes using the most appropriate dispute resolution process in the circumstances of each case.


3.1  The words and terms used herein have the same meaning ascribed to them as in the Act.

3.2  For greater clarity, the words below are defined as follows. In these procedures:

“Act” means the Canadian Human Rights Act;

“alternative dispute resolution” includes but is not limited to early resolution, preventive mediation, mediation and conciliation as practiced by the Commission;

“Commission” means the Canadian Human Rights Commission;

“Commissioner” means a member of the Commission appointed under Part II of the Act;

“complaint” means a complaint filed under Part III of the Act;

“complainant” means the individual or group of individuals who file a complaint;

“complaint form” is a document containing the particulars of one or more allegations of discrimination;

“conciliation” means the process used to endeavour to bring about a settlement of a complaint, led by a conciliator referred to in section 47 of the Act;

“conciliator” is the person appointed pursuant to section 47 of the Act to lead the process to bring about a settlement of a complaint;
“dispute resolution process” means the process used by the Commission, at its discretion, to deal with inquiries and complaints, including early resolution, preventive mediation, mediation, conciliation, preliminary assessment, investigation and the Commission’s decision-making process;

“early resolution” is an ‘on-the-record’ process led by a Commission employee to assist in resolving all or part of an inquiry;

“filing” means the delivery of documents to the Commission in accordance with these procedures;

“holiday” has the same meaning as in the Interpretation Act R.S. 1985, c  I-21. For greater clarity, the holidays under that Act are:
(a) Sunday;
(b) New Year’s Day;
(c) Good Friday;
(d) Easter Monday;
(e) Christmas Day;
(f) the birthday or the day fixed by proclamation for the celebration of the birthday of the reigning Sovereign;
(g) Victoria Day;
(h) Canada Day;
(i) the first Monday in September, designated Labour Day;
(j) Remembrance Day;
(k) any day appointed by proclamation to be observed as a day of general prayer or mourning or day of public rejoicing or thanksgiving;
(l) in any province, any day appointed by proclamation of the lieutenant governor of the province to be observed as a public holiday or as a day of general prayer or mourning or day of public rejoicing or thanksgiving within the province, and any day that is a non-juridical day by virtue of an Act of the legislature of the province; and
(m) in any city, town, municipality or other organized district, any day appointed to be observed as a civic holiday by resolution of the council or other authority charged with the administration of the civic or municipal affairs of the city, town, municipality or district;

“inquiry” means the initial contact with Commission staff by a member of the public for the purpose of obtaining information concerning the filing of a complaint in respect of specified circumstances or facts;

“mediation” is a confidential and consensual process, the objective of which is to settle all or part of a complaint;

“mediator” is any individual assigned by the Commission to conduct a mediation on behalf of the Commission;

“party” means either the complainant or respondent, and “parties” means all the complainants and respondents to a complaint;

“preliminary assessment” means an assessment of a complaint prior to investigation by the Commission;

“preventive mediation” is a confidential and consensual process where a mediator conducts an interest-based process, the objective of which is to resolve all or part of an inquiry;

“report” means a report intended to be presented to the Commission for a decision and includes an investigation report, a supplementary investigation report, a report under section 40 or 41 of the Act, a preliminary assessment report and a conciliation report;

“respondent” means the party against whom a complaint has been made;

“representative” means a lawyer or other individual who is authorized to represent a party in the dispute resolution process;

“submission” means a document submitted to the Commission by a party in response to the disclosure of a report or to the submission of another party.


4.1 The purpose of these procedures is to maintain a workable and administratively effective dispute resolution process while ensuring inquiries and complaints are dealt with in accordance with the applicable rules of procedural fairness; i.e., the parties to a complaint must be informed of the case against them and be afforded a fair opportunity of answering it to ensure they are accorded a meaningful opportunity to be heard by an independent, impartial and unbiased decision maker.


5.1  These procedures are to be interpreted liberally and in a manner consistent with the provisions and objectives of the Act.


6.1  These procedures apply to all inquiries and complaints.


7.1  In dealing with inquiries and complaints the Commission may, at its sole discretion:
 (a) lengthen or shorten any time limit in these procedures;
 (b) allow any document filed with the Commission to be amended;
 (c) waive the application of all or any part of these procedures where it appears just to do so.

7.2  The Commission may, at its sole discretion, exercise any of its powers under these procedures on its own initiative or at the request of a party.

7.3  Where a procedural matter arises that is not covered by these procedures, the Commission may, at its sole discretion, deal with the matter.


8.1  Filing is accomplished by sending the complaint form or other document to any office of the Commission by:
 (a) hand delivery;
 (b) courier;
 (c) regular mail;
 (d) facsimile; or
 (e) as directed by the Commission.

8.2  A complaint form or other document that is transmitted by facsimile must include the following information:
 (a) the name, address, telephone and facsimile numbers of the person transmitting the document;
 (b) the date and time of the transmission; and
 (c) the total number of pages being transmitted.

8.3  The date of filing a complaint form or submission is:
 (a) where it is sent by courier or delivered by hand, the day on which the Commission received it;
 (b) where it is sent by facsimile, the day on which it was sent; and
 (c) where it is sent by regular mail, six (6) days after the date of the postmark or, if received earlier, the day on which the Commission received it.


9.1 A document for use in the dispute resolution process shall be printed, typewritten, or reproduced legibly on good quality white or off-white paper measuring 21.5 cm by 28 cm (8½ by 11 in.),
 (a) in a type not smaller than 12 point;
 (b) with top and bottom margins of not less than 2.5 cm and left and right margins of not less than 3.5 cm; and
 (c) with no more than 35 lines per page, exclusive of headings.

9.2 A complaint in a form acceptable to the Commission shall contain:
 (a) the name of the complainant;
 (b) the name of the complainant’s representative (if a person other than the complainant);
 (c) the name of the respondent;
 (d) a statement that the complainant or the individual or individuals on whose behalf the complaint has been filed have reasonable grounds for believing that they are or have been the victim(s) of discrimination on the basis of one or more enumerated grounds;
 (e) the name of the alleged victim or victims of discrimination, if the complaint is filed by a third person;

 (f) a description of the events giving rise to the complaint, including dates and locations, the prohibited grounds of discrimination alleged to have been breached and the alleged discriminatory practice;
 (g) a declaration that the information provided is true to the best of the complainant’s knowledge or belief;
 (h) the complainant’s signed consent to have the Commission investigate the complaint; and
 (i)  the complainant’s signed consent to the release to the Commission by the respondent of all information and documents in the respondent’s possession which relate to the complaint such as, but not limited to, personal records and medical documents.

9.3  Subject to 9.6, a complaint form will not exceed three (3) pages in length.

9.4  Subject to 9.6, a submission will not exceed ten (10) pages in length, including attachments. The Commission, on notice to the party, may refuse to place those parts of the submission in excess of ten pages before the Commissioners for consideration. Where the Commission places submissions longer than ten pages before the Commissioners for consideration, it shall provide notice to the other parties and give them the opportunity to file submissions of equal length and then place those submissions before the Commission.

9.5  On a complaint form or submission, where text is printed on both sides of the paper, it shall be counted as two pages.

9.6  In keeping with the objective of ensuring a barrier-free dispute resolution process, parties, representatives and witnesses who have a vision impairment are entitled to communicate and receive available services from the Commission in an alternative format, such as Braille, audio or other electronic format. Where the Commission or a party is required to make a communication in an alternative format, these procedures shall be amended as necessary with respect to time lines and document format.


10.1  For all purposes in these procedures, in calculating a time period holidays are not counted. Where the time limit for doing something expires or falls on a holiday, it may be done on the day next following that is not a holiday.
10.2  Unless otherwise specified, submissions made in response to a report shall be delivered by the party making the submission to the Commission within twenty-one (21) days.

10.3  Unless otherwise specified, submissions made in response to the submission of another party shall be delivered to the Commission within fourteen (14) days.

10.4  A party may make a request to the Commission for an extension of any period of time provided by these procedures.

10.5  Where a party fails to comply with any time line under these procedures or fails to comply with any direction of the Commission, the Commission may take any action it considers appropriate, including dealing with the complaint without further notice to that party.


11.1  The parties have an obligation to cooperate with the Commission staff at all stages of the dispute resolution process.

11.2  The parties shall, in all their dealings and communication with the Commission staff, act in a courteous and civil manner. Failure to do so will result in appropriate action by the Commission, including but not limited to the immediate termination of the meeting or discussion and a requirement that all future communications from or to the party be in writing.

11.3  It is the responsibility of parties and representatives to ensure that their contact information with the Commission remains current. The Commission shall deliver any documents to a party’s or representative’s last known address and this shall be deemed effective delivery.

11.4  Parties and representatives are expected to respond in a timely manner to requests for documents or other information by the Commission.

11.5  The parties have an obligation to preserve any material related to a complaint, until the final disposition of the matter. This includes information in electronic formats and names and telephone numbers of witnesses.

11.6  Parties, representatives and witnesses are entitled to communicate and receive available services in both official languages from the Commission.

11.7 All documents shall be filed with the Commission in either official language.

11.8 Where the original document is not in English or in French but has been translated into either English or French, the Commission may consider the translated version. The translated document shall be accompanied with a translator’s declaration. A translator’s declaration must include the translator’s name, the language of the document translated and a statement signed by the translator that the translation is accurate.

11.9  Where a party is no longer represented by a representative, the party shall promptly notify the Commission.

11.10  A complainant may request to withdraw his or her complaint at any time by providing a signed request in writing to the Commission.


12.1  All witness interviews shall be conducted in private. Only the Commission investigator, the witness and the witness’ representative (provided that it is not a representative of a party) shall be present.


13.1  Where the parties wish to engage in mediation organized by the Commission, the parties and the Commission shall execute an agreement to mediate.


14.1 An offer to settle a complaint may be made by any party at any stage of the Dispute Resolution Process by signing, dating and delivering a written offer to settle to all other parties.

14.2Acceptance of an offer to settle shall be made in writing and communicated to the Party making the offer at the address set out in the offer.

14.3 For greater clarity, it is not the responsibility of the Commission to communicate offers to settle or an acceptance of an offer to settle made between the Parties whether the offer to settle or acceptance thereof is made in the course of alternative dispute resolution or otherwise. 

Approval of Settlements

14.4Where a settlement of a complaint is referred to the Commission pursuant to section 48(1) of the Act, the terms of settlement shall be in writing, entitled Minutes of Settlement.

14.5 Settlements may be referred to the Commission at any time after the filing of a complaint and before the commencement of a hearing before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.


14.6Parties must submit three (3) originally signed copies of the Minutes of Settlement to the Commission with the following added after the signature lines:

Approved by the Canadian Human Rights Commission
 at ______________________________
this _________ day of _______________________201_
 pursuant to subsection 48(1) of
the Canadian Human Rights Act

Canadian Human Rights Commission

14.7A settlement approved by the Commission under section 48 of the Act may, for the purpose of enforcement, be made an order of the Federal Court on application to that Court by the Commission or a Party to the settlement.

Where Commission considers reasonableness of Offer to Settle

14.8Where the parties have expressly agreed in writing, the Commission may consider an offer to settle when considering a report in respect of the complaint. An offer to settle a complaint referred to in this paragraph must remain open for acceptance for thirty (30) days after the Commission’s final decision in respect of the complaint.


14.9Where Parties settle a complaint outside the Dispute Resolution Process, the Parties shall advise the Commission as soon as possible. 


15.1  The Commission shall deliver notifications of its decisions under sections 40, 41, 44, 45, 47, 48 and 49 of the Act to the parties and their representatives.

15.2 Where the respondent is the Government of Canada, the Commission shall deliver notification of the decision to the deputy minister, deputy head or head of agency of the part of the federal public service named in the complaint. Where the complaint does not name a department or agency of the federal public service, notification shall be delivered to the department or agency of the federal public service most impacted by the decision. In the case of the Canadian Forces, notification shall be delivered to the Chief of Defence Staff.

15.3  Where the respondent is a corporation (including Crown corporations), notification shall be delivered to the chief executive officer of the corporation and to their representative.

15.4 Where the respondent is a partnership, notification shall be delivered to any one of the partners.

15.5 Where the respondent is another type of organization, notification shall be delivered to the executive director of the organization.