Frequently Asked Questions

1. I have a complaint and feel that I have been aggrieved. What do I do?

If you feel you have been aggrieved by a decision, act or omission in the administration of the affairs of the CAF, you have a right to be heard. The preferred method to remedy a complaint is for a member to make a verbal complaint to their immediate supervisor or their CO. The other option is for a member to submit a "Notice of Intent to Grieve" to their CO. If the attempt to resolve the complaint informally fails, the next step is to determine whether the grievance process is the correct method for handling the complaint. For example, if the complaint concerns harassment allegations, the harassment complaint process should be used before the grievance process. If the results of the harassment investigation are not satisfactory, a grievance can be submitted regarding these results.

2. In simple terms, can you briefly explain how the grievance process works?

When all attempts to resolve an issue are unsuccessful, you may be left with no other option than to submit a redress of grievance. If this occurs, ensure that your grievance conforms to the Queen’s Regulations and Orders (QR&O) article 7.08 (Submission of Grievance). In addition, you should also familiarize yourself with QR&O article 7.06 (Time Limit to Submit Grievance).

An initial authority (IA) will adjudicate the grievance. This individual could be your CO or the next superior officer in the chain of command. If you are not satisfied with the IA's decision, you can request that your file be forwarded to the final authority (FA) for consideration and determination.

3. What is the role of the Military Grievances External Review Committee?

The Committee is an independent organization that conducts an arms- length review of a grievance. The duty of the Committee is to provide findings and recommendations to the CDS and the grievor. In accordance with QR&O article 7.21 (Types of Grievances to Be Referred to Grievances Committee), the types of grievances that must be referred to the Committee are as follows:

  • administrative action resulting in the forfeiture of or deductions from pay and allowances, reversion to a lower rank or release from the CF
  • the application or interpretation of CF policies relating to the expression of personal opinions, political activities, candidature for office, civil employment, conflict of interest and post-employment compliance measures, harassment or racist conduct
  • pay, allowances and other financial benefits
  • the entitlement to medical care or dental treatment
  • any decision, act or omission of the CDS in respect of a particular officer or non-commissioned member

The CDS may also select to refer a grievance, other than one prescribed in QR&O 7.21, to the Committee in order to receive recommendations from a third party outside the Department. These are called discretionary referrals.

4. What role does the Ombudsman perform in relation to the grievance system?

If a complaint is made to the Ombudsman about the handling of a grievance, the Ombudsman may review the process to ensure that the individual is treated in a fair and equitable manner. The Ombudsman can investigate a complaint about a matter that has been the subject of a grievance after final adjudication of the grievance.

5. Who, in the CAF, has the authority to determine a grievance?

The IA and the FA, be it the CDS or a delegate, have the authority to adjudicate and determine grievances. If a grievor is not satisfied with the IA's decision, a request can be made for a file to be forwarded to the FA for consideration and determination.

6. I am unhappy with the IA's decision. What must I do to ensure that it is sent to the FA?

You must request that your file be forwarded to the FA for consideration and determination. This request must be submitted to the IA, in writing, and you must also detail which elements of your grievance remain open or unresolved. The IA will then forward your complete grievance file to DGCFGA.

7. I need more time to gather documentation prior to requesting that my file be forwarded to the FA for consideration and determination. Can I request an extension to the 30-day time limit?

No. There is no provision to request an extension. If you are unable to submit your documentation within the prescribed time limits, you must still send the request within 30 days. Your representation can be submitted at a later date.

8. Is it necessary for the IA or the FA to address every issue raised in a grievance?

No, unless the issue is relevant to the matter being grieved. If the issue is not germane to the matter being grieved, the IA or FA does not have to address it in their decision letter. For example, a CAF member submits a grievance for being denied a specific allowance. A number of reasons are provided by the grievor and why they believe they are entitled to this allowance. One reason they provide is that someone they knew received it. The IA or FA can render a decision by simply determining whether or not the grievor qualified for the allowance. In this regard, the IA or FA will not comment on the claim that someone else received it. Each grievance is adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in that issues concerning other members’ entitlements will not be addressed.

9. Once my file arrives at the FA, what happens next?

The grievance first goes through an intake process where it is checked for completeness. It is then examined to determine whether it must be mandatorily referred to the Military Grievances External Review Committee. Once the Committee has provided their findings and recommendations, it is forwarded to a grievance directorate to be assigned to an analyst. During this phase, the analyst will contact the grievor. It is at this point that the grievor will be able to ask questions regarding how their file will be processed.

10. How does the FA arrive at a determination?

The FA considers many factors in the process of determining a grievance. First, the FA must confirm whether they have jurisdiction on the matter being grieved. For example, the CDS, or his delegate, does not have jurisdiction over complaints made under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

After disclosing the file to a grievor, having identified the relevant facts and legislation pertaining to the matter grieved, the FA considers the entire file. The FA may request additional information if they feel that relevant information may be missing, the purpose being to complete and clarify the facts. The FA then confirms that procedural fairness was afforded to the grievor.

Finally, the FA determines whether the act, decision or omission being the object of the grievance was in accordance with the applicable laws, policies and CF directives. If the FA determines that the member was aggrieved, the FA must then determines if the redress sought can be granted and what the appropriate remedy will be. A decision letter, with reasons to either support or not support the grievance, is provided to the grievor.

11. I feel I am being harassed at work. Should I submit a grievance?

The NDA affords every member of the CF the right to grieve any decision, act or omission in the administration of the affairs of the CF for which no other process for redress is provided. This includes harassment. However, a grievance on harassment cannot be thoroughly adjudicated without a proper situational assessment and administrative investigation by a Responsible Officer. Therefore, it is important that members first file a formal harassment complaint. If the member is not satisfied with the result of the harassment investigation, a grievance can be submitted.

12. What are the roles and responsibilities of DGCFGA at the FA level?

The role of DGCFGA is to manage and maintain the Canadian Forces Grievance System on behalf of the CDS. In addition to the adjudication of grievances, this includes:

  • registering and tracking grievances
  • providing assistance and guidance to COs, IAs, and grievors
  • custodianship of rules, regulations and orders related to the grievance process

13. The Notice of Intent (NOI) to grieve

The purpose of the NOI is to inform the chain of command that a CAF member has an issue for which he or she is considering submitting a complaint, thus allowing the chain of command the opportunity to engage in the issue early, identify the best form of resolution and possibly resolve the matter.

If the chain of command is unable to resolve the matter, then it will be able to provide early assistance to the CAF member with the preparation and drafting of the grievance.

A NOI is:

a. submitted by the CAF member to their supervisor; andb. signed by the CO of the CAF member.

Be advised the NOI does not extend the existing time lines for submission of a grievance defined in Chapter 7.

14. I’m an initial authority (IA). Can I ask the grievor for an extension if material require translation?

No, the 4-month time period cannot be extended. The need to meet our official languages (OL) obligations can never be the source of a delay in the administration of grievances. The clock starts counting when the IA receives the grievance. Any time required for translation must be factored into this period.

In a recent official languages complaint, the IA completed the synopsis and decision letter prior to the four month deadline, but needed to translate it which caused a delay. The Office of the Commissionaire provided that a decision cannot be considered final if it was not rendered in the complainant’s preferred official language.

IA’s are to implement the necessary measures to ensure that there are no additional delays in the processing of grievances, owing to the official language in which they are filed.