Action Taken with respect to a Complaint
Complaints regarding the conduct of a Registered Dietitian or Registered Nutritionist received by the College of Dietitians of Alberta (CDA) are processed by the framework outlined in Part IV of the Health Professions Act.
Upon receipt of the complaint, the Complaints Director will review the complaint to establish whether CDA has jurisdiction.
The person making the complaint (Complainant) and the regulated member (Investigated Person) will, within 30 days of the College receiving the complaint, receive an initial letter from the Complaints Director confirming receipt and advising of the action taken with respect to it.
The following provides a brief overview of what actions may be taken, depending upon the decision of the Complaints Director. Each process ensures fairness to both the complainant and the regulated member named in the complaint.
Certain types of concerns are dealt with more effectively through discussion and resolution between the concerned parties. When appropriate, the Complaints Director will encourage the concerned parties to communicate with each other and resolve the issues surrounding the complaint. With the consent of both parties, the Complaints Director may also work with the parties in an attempt to resolve the complaint.
The Complaints Director may also suggest to the parties that they pursue an alternative complaint resolution process to resolve the matter. This process includes involvement of an impartial third-party who acts as a mediator to assist the parties to achieve a resolution and come to some form of agreement between themselves.
If none of these efforts to resolve a complaint are successful, the Complaints Director will determine further action.
Note: Facilitated Resolution will not apply to allegations that may cause further harm to a complainant including, but not limited to, allegations of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.
During the process of dealing with a complaint, the Complaints Director may determine that an investigation is required for the purpose of obtaining further information regarding the matter. Speciﬁcally, the Complaints Director may:
- Request an expert to review and assess the issues surrounding a complaint and provide a written report on the matter;
- Investigate the matter; and/or
- Appoint an investigator.
When the complaints director appoints an investigator to conduct an investigation, the investigator may ask any person to answer any questions and to produce any documents relevant to the case and may copy and keep copies of any documents provided. It is the responsibility of the investigator to gather factual evidence with regard to the complaint.
The HPA states the process for an investigation, specifying the following:
- The investigated person and the complainant are notified that the matter has been referred to an investigation and provided with the name of the investigator.
- The investigator will meet with the complainant and others who have direct knowledge of the matter for the purpose of gathering information and documents that relate to the complaint.
- The investigator will meet with the investigated person, who may be accompanied by a representative, for the purpose of gathering information and documents that relate to the complaint.
- During the course of the investigation, the investigator may require any person to answer any relevant questions (under oath, if deemed necessary), and to provide any documents or items relevant to the investigation.
- The investigator may at any reasonable time enter and inspect any premises (except a private home) where the investigated person provides services.
- The investigator has the authority to investigate other matters unrelated to the original complaint that are related to the conduct of the investigated person.
During the investigation process, the investigated person may be subject to conditions on their practice permit or suspension of their practice permit, pending the outcome of a hearing.
Information that is gathered by the College during an investigation is shared for the purposes of conducting the investigation, discipline processes or when authorized by law.
The length of an investigation will vary based on availability of people and information, complexity of the complaint, and legal or employment matters that may be involved.
Upon completion of the investigation, a report must be prepared and submitted to the Complaints Director. Based on the information provided in the report, the Complaints Director will determine next actions to be taken.
Dismissal of the Complaint
When a complaint is received, before or after it is investigated, the Complaints Director may make a decision to dismiss the complaint on the basis that it is frivolous or vexatious, or that there is insufficient or no evidence of unprofessional conduct. When a complaint is dismissed, the Complaints Director must give reasons. The complainant may apply, in writing with reasons, to the Hearings Director for a review of the dismissal of a complaint within 30 days of being notified of the dismissal. A complaint review committee reviews the decision and investigator’s report (if there is one), and may refer the matter to the Hearings Director for a hearing, direct the Complaints Director to appoint an investigator or conduct further investigation, or confirm that the complaint is dismissed.
Referral to a Hearing
If there is evidence to support the complaint, the matter is referred to the College’s Hearings Director for a hearing. Hearing tribunals include a minimum of two Registered Dietitians and one public member.
A hearing is a formal process set out in the legislation. Witnesses may be called by the College or the investigated person, documents are placed in evidence, the proceedings are recorded, and a decision is issued upon completion. Hearings are open to the public. The decisions of the Hearing Tribunal are subject to an appeal process whereby the investigated person or the Complaints Director, on behalf of the College, may appeal the hearing tribunal’s decision to Council within 30 days. The investigated person can subsequently appeal to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.