Any user of the health and social services network who believes their rights have not been respected or who is not satisfied with the services provided may express their dissatisfaction or file a complaint.

The complaint examination system is a procedure whereby:

  • users’ complaints are examined;
  • users are assisted and supported in filing a complaint.

Are you dissatisfied with the services you have received? Talk it over before filing a complaint

Before filing a complaint, try discussing your problem with the staff in charge of care and services at the institution first.

If you are still not satisfied despite the answers provided by the staff in charge, you have a number of options. Consult the following sections if you would like to:

Know Your Rights as a User

As a user of the health and social services network, you have the right:

  • to be informed:
    • about your health,
    • about the care available to you and its effects,
    • about the services available in your community and how to obtain them;
  • to receive personalized health and social services that are appropriate on a scientific, human and social level;
  • to be informed about any accidents that occurred when services were provided that may have consequences for your health;
  • to choose the professional or institution that will provide the care and services that you need;
  • to be sufficiently informed to be able to participate freely in decisions that concern you, for example, to accept or refuse care or services;
  • to consult your user record, which is confidential;
  • to receive emergency care;
  • to be treated with courtesy, fairness and in a safe manner, with respect for your dignity, autonomy and needs;
  • to receive services in English if you are an Anglophone user, as provided for in your region’s access program;
  • to be supported, assisted or represented, as needed, by a person of your choice;
  • and, if you think that your rights have not been respected:
    • to be informed about what you can do,
    • to file a complaint confidentially,
    • to be assisted or supported in filing a complaint.

You may consult the original version of users’ rights in the Act Respecting Health Services and Social Services This hyperlink will open in a new window. (CQLR chap. S-4.2).

You can also contact the institution’s users’ committee if you have any questions about your rights. For more information about users’ committees, consult the section Users’ Committees.

Make Comments or Suggestions for Improvements Regarding the Care and Services Provided

If you would like to express your dissatisfaction and make comments or suggestions for improvements without filing a formal complaint, contact the institution’s users’ committee. This procedure is confidential.

For more information about users’ committees, consult the section Users’ Committees.

Report a Situation That You Are Concerned about, Including a Situation of Abuse

If you realize that the rights of a user or a group of users have not been respected or if you suspect a situation of abuse, you can do something about it.

Inform the service quality and complaints commissioner for the resource or institution in question, verbally or in writing. The commissioner will intervene if necessary. You can obtain the commissioner’s contact information by consulting the section Contact Information for the Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner for Each Public Institution.

File a Complaint

Filing a complaint is a constructive action that ensures that users’ rights are respected and helps improve the quality of health and social services.

Filing a complaint is a confidential procedure.

The complaint procedure can be stopped at any time.

The complaint examination procedure allows a user to file a verbal or written complaint about the health or social services they received, they should have received or they should receive. The verbal or written complaint is forwarded to the service quality and complaints commissioner, who will examine it.

You can also express your dissatisfaction in other more informal and confidential ways. To find out more, consult the section Make Comments or Suggestions for Improvements Regarding the Care and Services Provided.

Who can file a complaint?

  • The user or his or her representative;
  • The heir or legal representative of a deceased user.

Anyone who realizes that the rights of a user or a group of users have not been respected can report the situation to the service quality and complaints commissioner.

Resources and Institutions Covered by the Health and Social Services Network Complaint Examination System

The following resources and institutions are covered by the health and social services network complaint examination system:

  • hospital centres;
  • residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs);
  • adaptation or rehabilitation and social integration services:
    • for people with a physical disability,
    • for people with an intellectual disability or pervasive developmental disorder,
    • for people with an addiction,
    • for mothers with adjustment difficulties;
  • protection and rehabilitation services for youth with adjustment difficulties and their families;
  • local community service centres (CLSCs);
  • intermediate resources:
    • supervised apartments,
    • rooming houses,
    • halfway houses,
    • group homes;
  • family-type resources:
    • foster families,
    • foster homes;
  • community organizations;
  • drug or gambling addiction housing resources;
  • private seniors’ residences;
  • ambulance transport services;
  • integrated health and social services centres (CISSSs) or integrated university health and social services centres (CIUSSSs);
  • any other person, company or organization that works with health and social services institutions.

The complaint examination system covers both public and private resources and institutions.

Steps involved in filing a complaint

Filling a complaint can be a two-step procedure:

File a first-level complaint

To file your complaint, you must contact the service quality and complaints commissioner for the resource or institution that you have a problem with. For more information about the commissioner’s role, consult the section Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner.

You can file a verbal or written complaint. It will be handled completely confidentially.

In some cases, your complaint might be referred, for example, to the Collège des médecins du Québec or to a professional order. To find out more, consult the section Whom Should You Contact to File a Complaint?

Whom Should You Contact to File a Complaint?
  1. If your complaint concerns a resource or health and social services institution covered by the complaint examination system.
    Whom should you contact?What will happen next?

    The service quality and complaints commissioner for the resource or institution in question. You can obtain the commissioner’s contact information:

    Exception: if your complaint concerns ambulance transport services in the Montreal or Laval regions, you must contact the service quality and complaints commissioner for the Corporation d'Urgences-santé at 514 723-5600, extension 5606.

    Within 45 days of receiving your complaint, the commissioner will inform you of:

    • his conclusions,
    • the solutions that he has proposed to solve the problem, or
    • the correctives measures that he has recommended to the people concerned.
  2. If your complaint concerns a health professional who practices in a health and social services institution, for example, a doctor, dentist, pharmacist or medical resident.
    Whom should you contact?What will happen next?

    The service quality and complaints commissioner for the institution in question.

    You can obtain the commissioner’s contact information:

    The commissioner will refer your complaint to the medical examiner.

    The medical examiner’s role is to examine complaints concerning professionals who practice in a health and social services institution.

    Within 45 days of receiving your complaint, the medical examiner will inform you of:

    • his conclusions;
    • the solutions that he has proposed to solve the problem, or
    • the correctives measures that he has recommended to the people concerned.

    You also have other options:

    • if your complaint concerns a doctor, you can also contact the Collège des médecins du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window.;
    • if your complaint concerns a dentist, a nurse, a psychologist or any other professional, you can also contact the professional order This hyperlink will open in a new window. of the professional you wish to file a complaint against.

    Within 90 days of receiving your complaint, the Collège des médecins du Québec or the professional order will inform you of:

    • its conclusions, or
    • the status of the investigation undertaken following your complaint.
  3. If your complaint concerns a doctor’s, dentist’s or other health professional’s private practice.

    Some private practices are bound to an institution in the health and social services network by a service agreement, while others are not. Only practices bound by an agreement are covered by the complaint examination system.

    This means that you must check if the private practice that you wish to file a complaint against is bound to an institution in the network by a service agreement. To find out, contact the private practice’s staff or the regional service quality and complaints commissioner.

    If your complaint concerns a professional who works in a private practice:

    Whom should you contact?What will happen next?

    If the private practice is bound to an institution by a service agreement, contact the service quality and complaints commissioner for the institution in question.

    You can obtain the commissioner’s contact information:

    Within 45 days of receiving your complaint, the commissioner will inform you of:

    • his conclusions,
    • the solutions that he has proposed to solve the problem, or
    • the correctives measures that he has recommended to the people concerned.

    If the private practice is not bound to an institution by a service agreement:

    • If your complaint concerns a doctor: contact the Collège des médecins du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window..
    • if your complaint concerns a dentist, a nurse, a psychologist or any other professional: contact the professional order This hyperlink will open in a new window. of the professional you wish to file a complaint against.
    • If your complaint concerns the operation (access, schedule, etc.) of the private practice: contact the management of the practice.

    Within 90 days of receiving your complaint, the Collège des médecins du Québec, the professional order or the management of the private practice will inform you of:

    • its conclusions, or
    • the status of the investigation undertaken following your complaint.

File a second-level complaint

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your first-level complaint, you can file a second-level complaint.

You can file your second-level complaint verbally or in writing. It will be handled completely confidentially.

Whom should you contact to file a complaint?
  1. If you are not satisfied with the service quality and complaints commissioner’s response or conclusions:
    Whom should you contact?What will happen next?

    The Québec Ombudsman:

    The Québec Ombudsman will examine your complaint and follow-up within 60 working days of receiving the complaint.

  2. If you are not satisfied with the medical examiner’s response or conclusions:
    Whom should you contact?What will happen next?

    The review committee of the institution where the health professional you are filing a complaint against works

    You can obtain the review committee’s contact information from the institution’s senior management.

    The review committee will examine your complaint and provide follow-up within 60 working days of receiving the complaint.

Obtain Assistance or Support in order to File a Complaint

A number of resources can help you if you decide to file a complaint. Do not hesitate to consult or use them.

User's commitee

All institutions in the health and social services network are required to have a users’ committee. The committee’s role is to defend users’ rights and interests.

The users’ committee can:

  • answer your questions about users’ rights with respect to health services;
  • help you file a complaint;
  • note your comments and suggestions;
  • note your dissatisfaction.

The users’ committee submits a list of issues and recommendations to improve the quality of care and services to the institution’s board of directors.

To find out the contact information for the users’ committee, contact the institution in question.

Service quality and complaints commissioner

The service quality and complaints commissioner’s role, like that of the people in his team, is to:

  • examine your complaint or refer it to the relevant authority;
  • ensure your rights are respected;
  • promote the quality of services;
  • assist you in filing a complaint, if necessary, or support you in any other steps related to your complaint.

You can obtain the commissioner’s contact information by consulting the section Contact Information for the Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner for Each Public Institution.

Centre d'assistance et d'accompagnement aux plaintes (CAAP; Complaints assistance and support centre)

The Centre d'assistance et d'accompagnement aux plaintes (CAAP) is a regional community organization mandated by the Minister of Health and Social Services to provide free and confidential services to assist and support you in filing a complaint.

Its role is to:

  • assist you, on request, in any steps taken to file a complaint with an institution or the Québec Ombudsman;
  • help you clarify the subject of your complaint and write it, if necessary;
  • support you throughout the procedure, including when the complaint is referred to the institution’s council of physicians, dentists and pharmacists;
  • answer your questions about how the complaint examination system works.

You will find the contact information for the CAAP in the section Contact Information for Complaint Assistance and Support Centres.

Ligne Aide Abus Aînés

This confidential and anonymous elder abuse helpline was set up by the Ministère de la Famille et des Aînés. If your complaint concerns the violation of an older person’s rights, you can get help by calling the toll-free number 1 888 489-ABUS (2287).

Other people

A person of your choice can also assist or support you at any time during the procedure.

Obtain the Contact Information for the Different Authorities in the Complaint Examination System

Contact Information for the Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner for Each Public Institution

Région 01 – Bas-Saint-Laurent

Région 02 – Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean

  • CIUSSS du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean
    418 541-7026 ou 1 877 662-3963

Région 03 – Capitale-Nationale

Région 04 – Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec

  • CIUSSS de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Québec
    819 370-2200 poste 43133

Région 05 – Estrie

  • CIUSSS de l’Estrie – Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke
    1 866 917-7903

Région 06 – Montréal

  • CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
    1 844 630-5125
    commissariat.plaintes.comtl@ssss.gouv.qc.ca
  • CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
    514 340-8222 poste 5833
  • CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
    514 593-3600
    commissaireauxplaintes.ccsmtl@ssss.gouv.qc.ca
  • CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
    514 338-2259
  • CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
    514 252-3510
    commissaireauxplaintes.cemtl@ssss.gouv.qc.ca
  • Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM)
    514 890-8000 poste 26047
  • Centre universitaire de santé McGill (CUSM)
    514 934-1934 poste 48306
    ombudsman@muhc.mcgill.ca
  • Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine
    514 345-4749
  • Institut de Cardiologie de Montréal (ICM)
    514 376-3330 poste 3398
  • Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montréal
    514 648-8461 poste 174
  • Institut universitaire de santé mentale de Montréal
    514 251-4000 poste 2920

Région 07 – Outaouais

  • CISSS de l'Outaouais
    819 771-4179 ou 1 844 771-4179

Région 08 – Abitibi-Témiscamingue

  • CISSS de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue
    1 888 764-5531

Région 09 – Côte-Nord

  • CISSS de la Côte-Nord
    418 962-9761 poste 2910 ou 1 877 962-9761
  • CLSC Naskapi
    418 585-2897

Région 10 – Nord-du-Québec

  • Centre régional de la santé et des services sociaux de la Baie-James
    418 748-3575

Région 11 – Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine

  • CISSS de la Gaspésie
    418 368-3301 poste 3604
  • CISSS des Îles
    418 986-2121 poste 8501

Région 12 – Chaudière-Appalaches

  • CISSS de Chaudière-Appalaches
    1 877 986-3587

Région 13 – Laval

Région 14 – Lanaudière

Région 15 – Laurentides

Région 16 – Montérégie

Région 17 – Nunavik

  • Centre de santé Innulitsivik
    819 988-2957
  • Centre de santé Tulattavik de l’Ungava
    819 964-2905

Région 18 – Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James

  • Conseil Cri de la santé et des services sociaux
    514 973-1957

Contact Information for Complaint Assistance and Support Centres (CAAPs)