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One Complaint Triggers New Policy

What Happened

Mr. M called our office on behalf of an activist group to which he belonged. He complained that a non-profit organization had threatened to prevent his group from taking part in an event. The non-profit was not a part of the City of Toronto administration, but did receive grants from the City. Mr. M had heard that the City was actively involved in making the decision about his group’s participation. He complained to the City about their involvement and was unsatisfied with their response.

What We Did

After interviewing staff in the City’s Equity and Diversity office, the Economic Development and Culture Division, and the Social Development Finance Administration Division, we found that the City did not have a process for handling complaints about grant-funded organizations. We then met with the City Manager to express our concerns about the absence of such a process. We also wrote to the City asking for a complaint mechanism, stressing that grants staff should be familiar with the process, it should be accessible to the public, and that it should be followed consistently. The City Manager agreed, and we reviewed the draft protocols and provided comments and support.

The Result

The process for dealing with complaints, incorporating suggestions from the Ombudsman, is now available on the City’s website for both the Social Development Finance Administration Division and the grants programs. Anyone wishing to complain about one of the City’s more than 800 grant-funded programs now has a clear path to follow.