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Ministry of Health


How do I make a complaint about a licensed community care facility?

Community Care Licensing programs are mandated to protect vulnerable individuals in licensed care facilities and provide public assurance that the established minimum standards for health, safety and well-being are maintained. Under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, a Medical Health Officer or a Licensing Officer must investigate every complaint related to non-compliance with the Act or regulations in a licensed community care facility.

There are a number of ways to make a complaint regarding the health, safety or well-being of a person in care at a licensed community care facility.

You can call enquiry BC toll-free 1 800 663-7867 and ask to be connected to your health authority's Community Care Licensing Office or you can mail, email, fax or visit the office.

Contact a Community Care Licensing Office

When should I make a complaint to Community Care Licensing?

If you have a concern about the health, safety or well-being of a child or person in a licensed facility you should make a complaint immediately. There is no time limit in which to make a complaint. However, waiting too long before making a complaint may affect the process; relevant documents or witnesses may become unavailable and affect the investigation and resolution of the complaint.

If you have brought your concerns to the attention of the facility and its manager but feel the response to your concerns has not been adequate, you should contact Community Care Licensing and make a complaint.

The information you provide is valuable to licensing staff and forms an integral part of their work in ensuring a healthy and safe environment in all licensed facilities.

What kinds of complaints are investigated by Community Care Licensing?

Medical Health Officers, who as independent statutory decision makers under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act must investigate every complaint of a licensed community care facility, regardless of whether a facility receives funding from a health authority, a Ministry or is private pay.

The Act requires that every complaint related to the health, safety and well-being of persons receiving care in licensed facilities be investigated. Complaints or concerns related to fees charged for services, enrollment/placement of persons in care, and labour relations are outside the scope of Community Care Licensing; however, licensing staff may be able to refer you to the appropriate agency or individual related to such concerns.

What should I include in my complaint?

The information you should include will vary, depending on the situation. In general, though, it's good to provide the following:

  • Specific information about who or what is involved in the complaint (hazardous material, inappropriate supervision, abuse, injury)
  • Your relation to the situation? (e.g. staff member, neighbour, family member).
  • Detailed description of the incident.
  • Date the incident occurred.
  • Your role as witness to the incident or as the conveyer of information you got from someone else.
  • Your name, address, and phone number (if you wish to remain anonymous, Community Care Licensing will still investigate the complaint).

What happens once I have made my complaint?

Generally, once a complaint is received:

  • A careful is assessment is made to determine if your complaint falls under the jurisdiction of the Community Care and Assisted Living Act.
  • If your complaint is under the jurisdiction of the Act, the investigation will be conducted by a MHO or a Licensing Officer.
  • The facility against which the complaint has been made will be notified of the complaint and given an opportunity to correct the situation. (Note: Licensing does not reveal the name of someone who makes a complaint.)
  • If the investigation reveals non-compliance with the Act or its regulations, the facility will be required to correct the situation and ensure future compliance.
  • You will not be provided with follow up information regarding the outcome of the investigation.

How long will it take to investigate a complaint?

Your complaint will be dealt with as quickly as possible. Some complaints can be dealt with in a matter of days. Other complaints may take weeks or months to investigate.

The degree to which Community Care Licensing investigates depends on the nature and severity of the complaint. Some complaints, such as those alleging criminal activity, such as inappropriate discipline or abuse, are of a serious nature and may involve other agencies, another Ministry, or the RCMP.

Does it cost anything?

There is no charge for filing a complaint.

Why did Community Care Licensing staff refer me to another office?

All complaints received are assessed to determine whether the complaint falls under the jurisdiction of the Community Care and Assisted Living Act. If your complaint does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Act, you will be told the reasons why and when possible, referred to other complaint mechanisms that may assist you.

Is the complaint process confidential?

Community Care Licensing does not reveal the name or personal information of someone who makes a complaint.

However, if the investigation results in action taken against the licensee or is the issue is taken to the Community Care and Assisted Living Appeal Board or is handled as a criminal matter, information or documents you supply may be used and become public information.

What do I do if I have a complaint about a licensing officer?

Licensing officers are employees of their regional Health Authority. If you have a concern or complaint about a licensing officer, you can contact the regional licensing manager, regional director of health protection, or the medical health officer in your area.