Connect with Your City


The City of Toronto aims to deliver exceptional, equitable, and accessible customer service. If customers are dissatisfied with the service they receive, the City wants to make it easy for them to make a complaint. Once a complaint has been made, customers should know what to expect. Corporate complaints handling guidelines outline how the City of Toronto will manage complaints efficiently, fairly, effectively and uniformly across all City divisions.

A Charter of Expectations promotes standards among the Toronto Public Service and informs Toronto citizens about what they can expect from public employees. Customer service standards and complaint handling protocols further expand on those expectations.

Customer service complaint protocols by City division

All City Divisions have established customer service complaint protocols based on corporate complaint handling guidelines. This page contains direct links to each divisional customer complaints protocol.


Accessibility – The ability for a complaint handling system to be easily understood, easily found with relevant information publicised, with no barriers to people with a range of ability.

Assessment – The process of gathering and documenting information to confirm the merits of a complaint.

Complainant – The person/ member of the public who makes the complaint.

Complaint –An expression of dissatisfaction with the level of service received from a city of Toronto program or service, where the customer believes that the city has not provided a service to the customer's satisfaction at the point of service delivery and a response is explicitly or implicitly expected.

Complaint owner – The appropriate staff person who receives the complaint through escalation. This individual is responsible for tracking progress, keeping customers informed and ultimately for complaint closure.

Complaint recipient – The employee who first receives a complaint from the complainant.

Complaint records – Records of a complaint will be maintained and filed by relevant City staff. Information will remain confidential.

Confidentiality – Refers to information provided by a person on a confidential basis which is not to be disclosed e.g. the identity of the provider and/or the details of the information are not to be disclosed except as agreed to by the provider.

Categories of Complaints – Complaints can be about the quality of service delivery, organizational policy, actions and decisions or employee conduct and behaviour.

Customer – Group of individuals (members of the public) that receive service.

Investigation – Process by which a situation is examined in detail, facts are established and the truth or falsity of any allegations is established. Investigations obtain direct evidence such as witness statements and documentary evidence.

Ombudsman – An independent and impartial organization that assists agencies to be aware of their responsibilities to the public, to act reasonably and to comply with the law and best practice in administration.

Responsiveness – The quality of readily reacting to a request (in particular, a customer complaint).

Resolution – Where parties agree on a future course of action, or the complaint is withdrawn, or a compromise is agreed on.

Service Standard – The time set that City Staff should review and responding to a customer complaint.

Visibility – The ability for a complaint handling system to be easily identifiable.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction related to a City of Toronto program, service, or staff member, where a customer believes that the City or its staff has not provided a service experience to the customer’s satisfaction at the point of service delivery and a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected. 

For the purpose of this policy, a Complaint can be about one or more of the following categories:

  • Divisional Policy, Process, Procedures
  • Staff
  • Access to Service
  • Timeliness of Service
  • Outcome
  • Quality of Service
  • Standard of Service
  • Charges
  • Agents

A customer complaint is distinct from:

  • Enquiry – A general or specific request for service or request for information regarding a City of Toronto product or service made by a customer that is resolved at the point of service delivery. 
  • Feedback – An opinion, comment and expression of interest in a City of Toronto program of service by a customer.
  • Compliment – An expression of approval for a City of Toronto service, staff member, program, product or process.
  • Suggestion – An idea submitted to the City of Toronto by a customer with the aim of improving services, programs, products or processes.

 Some complaints are exempt from these Guidelines, including:

  • Anonymous complaints – Anonymous complaints are difficult, if not impossible, to assess or investigate and will not be dealt with through the complaint handling process. 
  • Complaints by employees – Alternative procedures are available to employees to initiate complaints within the organization.
  • Complaints about services for which 311 provides service request numbers, such as missed garbage pick-up, no water service, etc.
  • Appeals.

Guiding principles

Accessibility – The complaints process must conform to Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements. The public should be able to access the complaints process at any point during service delivery via various channels: phone, letter, fax or e-mail and in-person at relevant locations.

Visibility – Information about how and where to complain should be well publicized through established communication mechanisms such as the Internet, Intranet, and other means of public communications.

Responsiveness – All complaints should be acknowledged and resolved in a timely manner. Complainants should receive a notification of receipt of the complaint including time frame for resolution. Complainants should be kept informed of delays.

Confidentiality – Public complaints will be dealt with in a confidential manner according to the Municipal Freedom of the Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). Information will be collected, used and disclosed in accordance with the Act.

Customer Focus – Staff should communicate to the public that complaints are taken very seriously and dealt with in a manner that meets and exceeds customer expectations. Complaints analysis and periodical reporting should reflect the City's commitment to understanding public needs, undertaking corrective measures to rectify problems, and improving public service delivery.

Documentation – All complaints and their outcomes must be logged to track complaint trends and make service improvements.

Communication/Training – Divisions should ensure that all staff are aware of their divisional complaint procedures through communication and/or training.