IPC complaint process

Any person who believes that another person has or is about to contravene Part X can file a complaint, in writing, with the IPC. Complaints about access and correction decisions must be filed within six months after the service provider refused the request (or failed to respond). All other complaints must be filed within one year after the subject of the complaint first came or should have come to the complainant’s attention.124

The following description of the IPC complaint process is subject to change. Please ensure that you consult www.ipc.on.ca for more information about these processes:

The majority of complaints received by the IPC are resolved at the intake or mediation stage.



The IPC registrar reviews the complaint to determine how it should be processed. The registrar or an intake analyst may attempt to resolve the complaint informally. They may also dismiss the complaint if it is clearly outside the IPC’s jurisdiction, they are satisfied with your response to the complaint, or for other reasons.



Complaints that are not resolved or dismissed at intake may be sent to mediation or further investigation. During mediation, the IPC will investigate the circumstances of the complaint and try to help all parties either reach a full settlement or simplify the complaint.

An IPC mediator acts as a neutral third party. Their main role is to offer guidance to help the parties understand one another and to come to a suitable resolution. Mediation is usually conducted by telephone, with the IPC mediator speaking separately with each party.

Mediation can succeed in settling some or all of the issues, clarifying the issues, and helping the parties to better understand the law. The majority of complaints received by the IPC are resolved at the intake or mediation stage.

In some cases, such as a privacy breach, the IPC will appoint an investigator to gather and clarify the facts relating to a contravention or potential contravention of the CYFSA.



If a complaint is not resolved at an early stage, the IPC may decide to conduct a formal review. In this situation, an IPC adjudicator will prepare a notice and send it to the parties in turn, including the service provider and complainant. The notice sets out the issues to be addressed and summarizes applicable laws and IPC decisions.

The IPC typically conducts reviews in writing, by asking the parties to submit written representations on the facts and issues described in the notice. The notice includes a deadline for all written representations (arguments and information to support the parties’ positions).

The representations will generally be shared with the other parties unless there is an overriding confidentiality concern. Once the adjudicator has considered all representations and, where applicable, reviewed the records, they will then decide how each issue should be resolved. The IPC has the power to make orders and issue recommendations for service providers, their agents or employees. For example, the adjudicator may order that a service provider grant the individual access to the requested record. The IPC may also decide not to issue an order. The IPC’s decisions are publicly available.

A person affected by an IPC order or by conduct giving rise to a conviction for an offence under Part X can sue for damages for actual harm caused by the contravention or offence.125


124. CYFSA, s. 316.  Note that the IPC has the power to permit a complaint to be submitted after a longer period of time, if the IPC is satisfied that this will not result in prejudice to any person. More information about IPC processes under Part X is available on our website.
125.  CYFSA, s. 325. If the Superior Court of Justice determines the harm was caused by a contravention that the defendants engaged in willfully or recklessly, the Court may include in its award of damages an award for mental anguish.
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