Making a Complaint to the Office of the Correctional Investigator
- Are you in the right place?
- Do you have the information we require?
- File your complaint!
- What do we do with your complaint?
- What can you expect?
Are you in the right place?
Who Can Make a Complaint?
- Federally sentenced individuals (offenders), incarcerated or in the community;
- An offender on behalf of another offender; and
- Family and friends on behalf of an offender.
Note: You are required to submit a written release to designate a family member or any other third party to act on your behalf.
When Can You Make a Complaint?
We encourage you to try and resolve issues informally or through CSC's internal grievance process before contacting our Office. It's always best to resolve complaints at the institutional level.
Reach out to our office if:
- There is an emergency (e.g. a serious and urgent matter that could result in immediate harm to you or involves significant legal rights, such as involuntary transfers, inability to access urgent medical care, or placement in restrictive conditions);
- You feel that you have been treated unfairly;
- You feel that you have not received a satisfactory response to your complaint using CSC's internal grievance process; or,
- If you feel that CSC has not complied with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act or other laws, regulations, or policies.
What Falls Outside of Our Jurisdiction?
- Complaints pertaining to provincial corrections.
- Complaints regarding the Parole Board of Canada decisions (does not include matters involving parole officers and CSC case management decisions regarding conditional release).
- Complaints regarding outside courts and/or judicial decision-making.
Do you have the information we require?
In order to process your complaint in an efficient and timely manner, we will require the following pieces of information.
- Your name (or offender you are contacting on behalf of).
- FPS Number.
- Institution or coordinates in the community (telephone number and mailing address).
- A short description of the problem or emergency.
- Steps you have taken to resolve the matter at your institution or in the community.
You may choose to make your complaint anonymously, but this could result in delay and other complications.
File your complaint!
Office of the Correctional Investigator
P.O. Box 3421, Station "D"
Ottawa ON K1P 6L4
1-877-885-8848 (Toll Free)
Monday-Friday: 8:30 - 16:30 EST
Outside of regular office hours (evenings, weekends, holidays), you can leave a message on our answering machine.
During scheduled institutional visits by OCI staff, feel free to arrange an interview in advance or to approach the investigator during their institutional visit.
What do we do with your complaint?
The Office has full control over decisions to investigate, and how an investigation will be done. Once you make a complaint to our Office, we normally proceed in the following manner:
1. Intake and Assessment
Intake staff will receive, assess and prioritize your complaint. At this initial stage, we may:
- Provide you with information about any law and policy that may apply.
- Ask you to try other ways to solve your problem.
- Ask for more information or clarification.
- Request permission to look at your files.
- Determine whether your complaint raises concerns that require further action.
2. Inquiry Stage
Once your complaint has been reviewed, it is assigned to an investigative staff member for follow-up. Normally, the OCI will begin by making contact with CSC officials to see if there is any way to resolve your complaint quickly.
This inquiry will help the OCI determine whether or not the CSC's actions or decisions were fair, appropriate and in compliance with policy and law. If it is determined that the CSC's actions were appropriate, you will be advised in writing and no further action will be taken.
Where it appears that CSC actions or decisions may have been unfair, inappropriate or not in compliance with policy and law, then we will investigate.
An investigation may require many steps, including, but not limited to:
- Contacting you directly to discuss your complaint;
- Requesting access to relevant CSC case records, files and decisions;
- Interviewing involved staff or witnesses;
- Conducting a site visit; and/or,
- Reviewing relevant laws, policies, procedures and guidelines.
Once the OCI has gathered all the relevant information and completed the investigation, you will be advised in writing of the findings and recommendation(s) (if any) that will be shared with CSC.
CSC will then decide whether or not it agrees with the recommendation(s) and the steps they will take to respond to the recommendation(s), or, if CSC does not agree, what they will do instead.
What can you expect?
Confidentiality: All communications between offenders and the OCI are confidential, including those taking place over the phone. Conversations cannot be recorded or monitored by the CSC. All written correspondence to and from the OCI must, by law, be delivered unopened.
A person or group cannot be disciplined or punished because they have contacted the Office.
In the course of our work, it may be necessary to disclose information to CSC authorities in order to establish the merit of a complaint, to conduct an investigation or to make findings and recommendations relative to your complaint. Any concerns regarding disclosure or access to personal information should be shared when you make contact with the Office.
Response Time: In all cases, our goal is to resolve your complaint informally, in a timely and transparent manner, and at the lowest official level possible through negotiation and discussion. As an independent and impartial investigative organization, we do not take sides and will only take steps if it is determined that a complaint has merit.
- Intake and Assessment: If the complaint does not involve an inquiry, you may expect to hear back from us - either in writing, by phone or by visit - within approximately 15 business days.
- Inquiry: If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved at the inquiry stage, you will receive written notification within approximately 30 business days about whether an investigation will be launched.
- Investigation: The length of time required to conduct an investigation varies. Typically you may expect to receive written notification of the findings and recommendations of our investigation within 45 business days.
The OCI is committed to resolving offender complaints as quickly as possible. The timelines shown above are the upper limits, and problems may be resolved more quickly. The OCI also ensures that emergency matters are dealt with on a priority basis.