Grievance process

  • I am unhappy with a decision, act, or omission. What can I do?

    According to the National Defence Act, if you are unsatisfied with a decision, act, or omission (because you feel someone’s actions or failure to act led to your unfair treatment), you can submit a grievance to your commanding officer.

    You must submit your grievance within three months after the day you knew, or should have reasonably known about the decision, act, or omission. Read Chapter 7 of the Queen’s Regulations and Orders and visit the Canadian Forces Grievance System website to learn more about each stage of the grievance submission process.

    Note: Upon your release from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), you will no longer be able to file a grievance unless you are in the Supplementary Reserves. However, your commanding officer must consider any redress submitted before your release.

    For help in submitting a formal complaint, contact your local Conflict and Complaint Management Service (CCMS) centre. The Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (ICCM) helps active Canadian Armed Forces members submit, track, and resolve complaints.

    If you are unable to access the ICCM service to track your formal complaint or if you believe that you have been treated unfairly, you can contact our office for information and assistance.

    If there are exceptional reasons that prevent you from addressing your concerns through regular channels (for instance, time sensitivity, health, security, or financial concerns for you or your family), you can contact our office by phone or in writing. We can assist when there are compelling circumstances to ensure all relevant parties know about your circumstances.

  • How does the grievance process work?
  • I am concerned about submitting my grievance to my commanding officer. Can I submit my grievance to the Office of the Ombudsman for review instead?

    The Ombudsman’s Office does not replace the existing grievance process. You must make your first attempt to resolve your concerns through existing mechanisms.

    If there are exceptional reasons that prevent you from addressing your concerns through regular channels such as time sensitivity, health, security, or financial concerns for you or your family, you can contact our office by phone or in writing. In cases where compelling reasons exist, we can ensure the appropriate parties know about your circumstances.

    If you submit a complaint to the Ombudsman about the handling of your grievance, the Office of the Ombudsman will review the process only to ensure your treatment was fair and equitable.

  • The initial authority has yet to respond to my grievance. The response is now overdue. What should I do? 

    Your commanding officer (CO) is responsible for registering your grievance in the National Grievance Registry (NGR). Once registered, your CO must acknowledge receipt of your grievance in writing and provide you with the NRG number. The initial authority has four months to take a decision on the grievance, and then provide it to you in writing. If you have not received a response within that period, you can request that your grievance be forwarded to the final authority for consideration and determination.

    If your CO cannot act as the initial authority, they must inform you that your file has been forwarded to the Canadian Forces Grievance Authority. The Canadian Forces Grievance Authority must then notify you of the actions taken in assigning your file to the initial authority.

    Throughout the process, you can submit a memorandum to your CO in order to request an update on the status of your grievance as well as an expected timeline for a response.

    The Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (ICCM) service helps active Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members submit, track, and resolve grievances and other complaints. To confirm the status of your grievance, contact your local Conflict and Complaint Management Services (CCMS) centre.

    You can contact our office if you have concerns about the handling of your grievance at any stage in the process, or if you feel there may be compelling circumstances that require us to get involved.

  • I submitted my grievance to my commanding officer two years ago. It is unresolved. I have received a letter advising that it is at the Chief of Defence Staff level. How long do I have to wait for a response? Where can I direct my questions? Can the Ombudsman’s Office intervene because of the delay?

    Your commanding officer (CO) must register your grievance in the National Grievance Registry, and provide you with the registration number. You can submit a memorandum to your CO in order to request the status of your grievance as well as an expected timeline for a response.

    Once it is at the Final Authority level, there is no time limit for the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) to respond to your grievance. However, the intent is that the CDS will respond to a grievance within 12 months of its receipt.

    To find out if the CDS has referred your grievance to the Military Grievance External Review Committee (MGERC) you can call 1-877-276-4193 (toll free) or (613) 996-8529. There are several factors that affect the ability of the MGERC to meet a grievance deadline. Examples of these factors include:

    • the date when the MGERC receives a grievance referral, once the grievance has been filed at the CDS level;
    • the complexity of a grievance which, in turn, may require MGERC staff to research and gather additional information;
    • the speed of responses to MGERC requests for additional information; and
    • the number of MGERC members available to review grievances.

    The Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (ICCM) service helps active Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members submit, track, and resolve grievances and other complaints. To confirm the status of your grievance, contact your local Conflict and Complaint Management Services (CCMS) centre.

    If you feel there has been undue delay or you have concerns about the handling of your grievance at any stage in the process, you can contact our office.

  • Are there issues that cannot be grieved?

    Yes. You cannot grieve the following:

    • any Summary Trial, Court Martial, or Court Martial Appeal Court decision;
    • any matter that must be addressed by another process as stipulated in the National Defence Act (NDA);
    • any decision taken by a board, commission, court or tribunal not created under the NDA (e.g. the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Privacy Commissioner, the Access to Information Commissioner, or the Official Languages Commissioner); and
    • any decision, act, or omission made outside the authority of the Chief of Defence Staff by the Government of Canada.
Grievance Process

Video: What if I am unhappy with a complaint I made through another mechanism?

What happens if you're unhappy with the way a mechanism like the Canadian Forces Grievance Process, or the Public Service grievance and complaint process is handling your complaint?

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