Since June 1, 2021, local service quality and complaints commissioners at integrated health and social services centres and integrated university health and social services centres are responsible for handling complaints from users of private institutions.

Any complaint that was received by a commissioner of a private institution before June 1 and has not been resolved is transferred to the commissioner at the local integrated health and social services centre or integrated university health and social services centre. The commissioner will write to the complainant to confirm the change in contact person and explain how the complaint will be handled.

Any user of the health and social services network who thinks their rights have not been respected, who is not satisfied with the services they have received or who witnesses a situation of concern can report the situation or file a complaint.

The complaint examination system ensures that users' complaints are assessed and handled confidentially and independently and that users are supported throughout the procedure. The heir or legal representative of a deceased user or a person who is representing the user may also file a complaint. The use of the complaint examination system is governed by the Act respecting health services and social services This hyperlink will open in a new window..

More specifically, the Act provides for:

  • the confidential assessment and handling of complaints and reports by a local service quality and complaints commissioner who is independent of the institution;
  • free and confidential access to resources to support users throughout the procedure.

Before filing a complaint, a user can discuss the situation with the staff concerned or the person in charge of care and services at the institution. If they are still not satisfied despite the answers obtained, they must contact the institution's local service quality and complaints commissioner.

Know your rights as a user

As a user of the health and social services network, you have rights and it is important to know what they are.

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 access them;
  • about any accidents that occurred while you were receiving services that may have consequences for your health;
  • enough to be able to participate freely in decisions that concern you, such as accepting or refusing care or services.

You have the right to receive:

  • personalized health and social services that are scientifically, humanly and socially appropriate;
  • emergency care;
  • services in English if you are an English-speaking user, as provided for in the access program for your region;
  • end-of-life care.

You have the right to access your information and to make different choices such as:

  • consult your user record, which is confidential;
  • choose the professional or institution that will provide you with the care and services you need;
  • be supported, assisted or represented, if necessary, by the person of your choice.

You also have the right to be treated with courtesy, fairness and in a safe manner, with respect for your dignity, autonomy and needs.

If you think that your rights have not been respected, you have the right to:

  • be informed about what you can do
  • file a complaint confidentially;
  • be assisted or supported throughout the procedure.

You can consult the original version of users' rights in the Act respecting health services and social services This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Report a situation of infringement of rights or abuse

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

Inform the local service quality and complaints commissioner of the institution concerned immediately. The procedure is confidential.

File a complaint

Complaints may be made verbally or in writing to the local service quality and complaints commissioner. The procedure is confidential and can be stopped at any time.

The complaint examination procedure allows a user to make a verbal or written complaint about the health or social services they received, they should have received, they are receiving or they should be receiving.

The local commissioner is responsible for enforcing the institution's complaint examination procedure. Since they report directly to the board of directors, they have the independence required to carry out their mandate. They examine complaints with neutrality, objectivity and impartiality. They also report annually on their activities and their recommendations for service improvement.

If necessary, you can be supported by the person of your choice throughout the procedure. You can also be supported by a member of the institution's users' committee or by a person from the complaints assistance and support centre in your region.

A complaint may be filed by:

  • the user themselves or a person representing them;
  • the heir or legal representative of a deceased user.

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

Steps involved in filing a complaint

The main steps when you contact a local service quality and complaints commissioner are as follows:

  1. They receive your request and can help you formulate your complaint.
  2. They examine your complaint to identify the problem and try to solve it. At this point, they will ask you for your version of events.
  3. They collect information from the people involved.
  4. They inform you of the outcome within 45 days of receiving your complaint. Their findings are accompanied by solutions to solve the problem or recommendations for corrective measures made to the institution. The findings are communicated verbally if the complaint is verbal and in writing if it is written.
  5. You may file a second-level complaint if you are not satisfied with the commissioner's findings or recommendations.

Resources and institutions subject to the health and social services network complaint examination system

The following resources and institutions are subject to the complaint examination system:  

  • hospital centres;
  • residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs);
  • integrated health and social services centres (CISSSs) or integrated university health and social services centres (CIUSSSs);
  • local community services centres (CLSCs);
  • community organizations;
  • private seniors' homes;
  • family-type resources:
    • foster families;
    • foster homes;
  • residential addiction or pathological gambling resources;
  • intermediate resources;
  • 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 young people with adjustment difficulties and their families;
  • ambulance transportation services;
  • any other person, company or organization that works with health and social services institutions.

Both public and private institutions and resources are subject to the complaint examination system.

Special situations

Some particularities may apply depending on the service or professional the complaint is filed against. Please check if any of the situations described below applies to you.

For all other situations, the complaint procedure described above applies. You can go to the section "Contact a local service quality and complaints commissioner" to find out the contact information for the commissioner of the institution concerned.

You must contact the local service quality and complaints commissioner for the institution in question.

The commissioner will refer your complaint to the medical examiner.

The medical examiner’s role is to handle complaints made against professionals who practice in a health and social services institution

The medical examiner will examine your complaint diligently. They have 45 days to report their findings. They will inform you of the solutions envisaged to solve the problem or the recommendations they will make to the professional concerned.

You also have other options:

  • If your complaint concerns a doctor, you can contact the Collège des médecins du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window..
  • If your complaint concerns a dentist, nurse, psychologist or any other professional, you can 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 findings or of the progress of the investigation undertaken following your complaint.

First, you must contact the local service quality and a service agreementcomplaints commissioner to find out if the private practice is bound to an integrated health and social services centre or integrated centre by a service agreement.

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, nurse, psychologist or 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 findings or of the progress of the investigation undertaken following your complaint.

File a second-level complaint

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the first-level complaint you filed with a local service quality and complaints commissioner, you can file a second-level complaint.

If you are not satisfied with the service quality and complaints commissioner’s response or findings, you must contact the Ombudsman:

Québec City office: 418-643-2688
Montréal office: 514-873-2032
Toll free: 1-800-463-5070
Email: protecteur@protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca
Website: https://protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca/en This hyperlink will open in a new window.

The Ombudsman will examine your complaint and respond to it within 60 working days of receiving it.

If you are not satisfied with the medical examiner's response or findings, you must contact the review committee of the institution where the health professional you are filing a complaint against practices.

The contact information for the review committee will be provided in the letter you receive.

The review committee will examine your complaint and respond to it within 60 working days of receiving it.

In both situations, you can make your second-level complaint verbally or in writing. It will be handled confidentially.

Assistance and support resources

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

Users' committees

All institutions in the health and social services network are required to have a users' committee. The role of this committee 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;
  • not your dissatisfaction.

Each year, the users' committee submits a list of issues and recommendations for improving 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.

Complaints assistance and support centres

Complaints assistance and support centres (Centres d'assistance et d'accompagnement aux plaintes; CAAP) are community organizations mandated by the Minister of Health and Social Services to provide free and confidential services to assist and support you in filing a complaint. There are complaint assistance and support centres in all regions of Québec.

Their role is to:

  • assist you, upon request, in any steps you take to file a complaint with an institution or the Ombudsman;
  • help you clarify the subject matter 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.

To contact the CAAP in your region quickly, call the toll-free number 1-877-767-2277.

Contact a local service quality and complaints commissioner

Consult the list below for the contact information of your local service quality and complaints commissioner. Service quality and complaints commissioners are responsible for handling complaints from users of public and private institutions in their area.

Région 01 – Bas-Saint-Laurent

Région 02 – Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean

Région 03 – Capitale-Nationale

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

Région 05 – Estrie

Région 06 – Montréal

Région 07 – Outaouais

Région 08 – Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Région 09 – Côte-Nord

Région 10 – Nord-du-Québec

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

Région 12 – Chaudière-Appalaches

Région 13 – Laval

Région 14 – Lanaudière

Région 15 – Laurentides

Région 16 – Montérégie

Région 17 – Nunavik

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