Policy on Dealing with Allegations and Complaints

Assessment and Investigation Services Branch

Date : Updated: April 2014

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Table of contents

Preamble

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) management of allegations and complaints arises from its policy to provide grants and contributions to First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities, for the provision and administration of programs and services in accordance with the terms and conditions of funding agreements.

This policy clarifies the roles and responsibilities of departmental employees when dealing with concerns brought to the attention of the Department regarding First Nation, Inuit and Métis bodies and organizations, their employees and representatives.

1.0 Purpose

1.1

To clarify the role and responsibilities of AANDC employees when dealing with allegations and complaints and to provide direction on the processing and reporting of allegations and complaints.

1.2

This policy is meant to support other appeal and/or redress mechanisms already in place by AANDC or other organizations, not replace them.

2.0 Scope

2.1

This policy applies primarily to allegations and complaints with respect to funding provided by AANDC.

2.2

This policy also applies to allegations and complaints relating to decisions and actions of third party managers where they relate directly to the funding provided by this Department for programs and services.

2.3

Disputes or allegations concerning a band election held in accordance with the electoral provisions of the Indian Act and for which an appeal can be launched pursuant to the Indian Band Election Regulations, or cases where an election is held under a Band's Custom Election Code are normally dealt with by the existing appeal mechanism available.

Allegations of vote buying that are raised outside the period of appeal may be referred to the Assessment and Investigation Services Branch (AISB).

3.0 Authorities and References

See Appendix A

4.0 Issuing Authority

This policy is issued under the authority of the Deputy Minister, AANDC.

5.0 Definitions

See Appendix B

6.0 Management Policy

AANDC’s management of allegations and complaints is based on the following principles:

6.1 Dealing with allegations

When a Regional Allegations and Complaints Coordinator receives an allegation directly, he/she will transfer the information to AISB for review. AISB will determine if the allegation should be dealt with by AISB.

In the case of an allegation of physical abuse or a criminal matter, the Regional Coordinator should encourage the complainant to bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate policing authority and provide the appropriate contact information. The Regional Coordinator may bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate policing authority under the following circumstances:

  • Where the Regional Coordinator is asked to do so by the complainant on his/her behalf.
  • Where harm is imminent or occurring and the Regional Coordinator feels it is his/her responsibility to report the situation with or without consent from the complainant.

6.2 Dealing with complaints

When a complaint is referred by the Regional Coordinator to another departmental employee, he or she will review relevant information under the Department’s control, directly related to the complaint and, where required, may contact the First Nation/Inuit/Métis body or organization and attempt to facilitate resolution of the complaint.

6.3 Dealing with requests for audits, up to and including forensic audits

Requests for audits, up to and including forensic audits, will be referred to AISB for review and determination of a course of action.

In situations where there is a request for a forensic audit and the Regional Coordinator believe it would be better deal with as a complaint, he or she should obtain consent of AISB before proceeding.

6.4 Procedures for handling allegations and complaints

The Procedures for Handling Allegations and Complaints will be distributed to the Regional Coordinators and should guide the management of allegations and complaints.

6.4.1 Receipt of information

Allegations and complaints may be received from any source.

Allegations and complaints received by AANDC employees will be referred as soon as possible to the appropriate Allegations and Complaints Coordinator.

6.4.2 Electronic recording of allegations and complaints

Every allegation or complaint received by AANDC shall be recorded in the appropriate database designated to capture this information. The Comprehensive Integrated Document Management (CIDM) system is the system of record. TeamMate is the tracking system for the handling of all allegations and complaints under this policy.

6.4.3 Follow-up

  1. AISB is responsible for dealing with allegations.
  2. Cases of potential conflict of interest involving departmental officials shall be referred to AISB.
  3. AISB is responsible for tracking ministerial correspondence regarding allegations and complaints and ensuring timely response.
  4. Generally, the responsibility for following up and determining the nature and form of the response to complaints will rest with AANDC regions.

7.0 Responsibilities

7.1 The Regional Director General (RDG):

  • implements this policy and the required process relevant to its application in the region;
  • ensures that staff are aware of their reporting obligations pursuant to the Financial Administration Act and their obligations under the Treasury Board’s Directive on Losses of Money or Property.

7.2 The Regional Allegations and Complaints Coordinator:

  • is responsible to receive incoming allegations in the region and transfer them to AISB for review, with any pertinent information available;
  • is responsible for ensuring that complaints are captured in the appropriate database as soon as possible; that all relevant documentation related to a file is saved in CIDM; that the parties involved are noted in TeamMate; and that the steps taken to review and resolve the complaint are recorded in TeamMate;
  • is responsible to ensure that the sharing of documentation is controlled and limited, and that information related to any allegation or complaint is shared only on a need-to-know basis;
  • is responsible for sending written responses to complainants and ensuring adherence to the provisions of the Privacy Act (for example, no personal information should be sent to the complainants by e-mail); and
  • is responsible for providing functional guidance, training, advice and assistance to regional management and staff, with assistance from AISB when required.

7.3 The Audit and Evaluation Sector (AES), through the AISB:

  • conducts additional reviews, up to and including forensic audits, on allegations received by the Department;
  • reviews allegations and complaints referred by the regions and received at headquarters and coordinates the processing of those files, including corresponding with the originators;
  • provides functional direction and training with respect to the general application of this policy;
  • prepares management reports, including those required by Treasury Board and other central agencies;
  • ensures that the handling of personal information related to allegations and complaints is in accordance with the Privacy Act.

APPENDIX A - Authorities and References

APPENDIX B - Definitions

For the purposes of this policy, AANDC is using the meanings listed below to define the following terms:

Allegation: a suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of a public servant; a First Nation, Métis, or Inuit government body or organization; a manager interacting with Aboriginal communities or a manager of an Aboriginal community. This may include, for example, the misuse or misappropriation of AANDC funds, fraud, collusion and gross mismanagement.

Complaint: a concern, normally of a non-criminal nature, raised about a perceived action or inaction on the part of public servants, officials of First Nation/Inuit/Métis bodies or organizations, or managers interacting with Aboriginal communities. This may include, for example, the inability of a First Nation member on reserve to obtain funding allocation for house repairs or for post-secondary education.

Compliance: conforming and adhering to organizational policies, plans, procedures, laws, regulations, and contracts.

Conflict of Interest: a situation in which a public official’s existing private interests could improperly influence his/her performance of public duties or responsibilities. (Given that public servants hold a public trust, the appearance of a conflict of interest should be handled as a real conflict of interest.)

First Nation/Inuit Body or Organization: includes, but is not limited to: a "band" as defined by the Indian Act; any elected, non-elected, or otherwise selected leadership of a First Nation/Inuit tribal council or political organization; any First Nation/Inuit bodies or organizations receiving federal funds or having the authority to administer programs and services on behalf of recipients; and any First Nation/Inuit owned or controlled trust or economic development interest.

Forensic Audit: the gathering of evidence while following acceptable professional standards and procedures so that the evidence may be used in a court of law, tribunal, or other instances.

Funding Agreement: a written agreement or documentation constituting an agreement that sets out the obligations or understandings of all involved parties with respect to one or more transfer payments between the Government of Canada and an applicant or recipient.

Métis Body or Organization: includes, but is not limited to: any elected, non-elected, or otherwise selected leadership of a Métis representative or political organization; any Métis organizations receiving federal funds or having the authority to administer programs and services on behalf of recipients; any Métis owned or controlled trust or economic development interest.

Recipient: an individual or entity who has been either authorized to receive a transfer payment or has already received that transfer payment.

Self-Government Agreement: an agreement ratified by an Aboriginal community and the provincial / territorial government and the Government of Canada that specifies the jurisdiction and capacity of the Aboriginal community to design and deliver programs and services to its citizens.

Terms and Conditions: sets the obligations between the parties in a funding agreement that may be contained within the funding agreement itself or in other documents referred to within the funding agreement, such as reporting handbooks, guides or related agreements (e.g., tripartite education agreement).

Third Party Funding Agreement Manager: a prequalified third party that is appointed by the Department to administer funding for services otherwise payable to the recipient and the recipient’s obligations under a funding agreement, in whole or in part. This third party may also assist the recipient in remedying defaults under a funding agreement.

Transfer Payment: a monetary payment, or a transfer of money, goods, services or assets made, on the basis of an appropriation from Parliament to a third party (First Nation/Inuit/Métis body or organization or other levels of government) without the federal government directly receiving goods or services in return. Transfer payments are categorized as grants, contributions and other transfer payments. Transfer payments do not include investments, loans or loan guarantees.

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