Frequently Asked Questions – Complaint examination
Information and reporting
What is a complaint?
A complaint is the expression of one of the following three elements where that element persists after having been considered and processed at the operational level with decision-making authority:
- a reproach in respect of the registrant;
- the identification of real or potential harm that a consumer has sustained or may sustain; or
- a request for remedial action.
A complaint must be in writing so that it can be kept on file. If a consumer makes a verbal complaint, the person taking charge of the complaint must document it so that it can be kept on file.
The initial expression of dissatisfaction by a consumer, whether in writing or otherwise, will not be considered a complaint where the issue is settled in the regular course of the business’s activities. However, if the consumer remains dissatisfied and the complaint officer designated in the business's policy takes charge of the dissatisfaction, it will be considered a complaint.
However, the business must refrain from any undue delay in referring a complaint to a higher level solely for the purpose of circumventing the requirement to enter the complaint in the complaint report.
Businesses without a multilevel structure for processing complaints must consider a client’s dissatisfaction to be a complaint when it persists after a reasonable attempt has been made by the business to settle the matter.
Why must I report consumer complaints to the AMF?
Reporting consumer complaints to the AMF is one of the obligations relating to complaint processing that are imposed on firms. Insurers, trust companies, savings companies, financial services cooperatives, securities dealers and advisers, firms, independent partnerships and independent representatives are subject by regulation to obligations relating to the fair and equitable processing of complaints. These may be summarized as follows:
- Adopt a complaint processing policy
- Process every complaint in a fair manner
- Send an acknowledgement of receipt and a notice to the complainant
- Send the complaint record to the AMF, at the complainant's request
- Prepare and submit the complaint report to the AMF
All these obligations share a common objective: enhanced protection of consumers of financial products and services through the monitoring of businesses’ commercial practices.
Who within the business is responsible for gathering and reporting the data through the complaint report?
Who has responsibility for gathering and reporting data through the complaint report is up to each firm.
In large businesses, complaints are usually forwarded to several individuals working in different departments. If this is the case, the business must communicate the procedure to the staff concerned to ensure that it is clearly understood and properly followed by them.
What happens if I fail to report complaints in the complaint report?
In the past few years, the AMF noticed that many businesses were not complying with the requirement to report complaints received from clients. The AMF published reminders for those businesses in the AMF bulletin.
Despite these reminders, many firms are still not in compliance.
As a result, the AMF is imposing administrative measures on firms who fail to report their complaints. These firms will receive formal notices setting out the allegations made against them and the penalty that the AMF intends to impose.
It is therefore important to properly complete your complaint reports and send them to the AMF in accordance with the conditions and deadlines prescribed by the AMF.
For more information, please refer to the AMF Bulletin of November 3, 2022 (in French only).
- Distribution of financial products and services – Notices and Press releases (pdf - 507 KB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on November 3, 2022
- Financial Institutions – Notices and Press Releases (pdf - 99 KB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on November 3, 2022
- Securities and derivatives markets – Notices and Press releases (pdf - 479 KB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on November 3, 2022
What will the data collected through the complaint report be used for? Will the information be made public?
The information collected through the complaint report will enable regulatory authorities, such as the AMF and the FSCO, to assess businesses’ conduct in the markets.
In addition, using the information collected, the regulatory authorities will be able to allocate their resources to where they are most needed and more effectively develop education and awareness tools.
The information regarding complaints is collected so that regulatory authorities like the AMF and the FSCO can fulfill their mandate to regulate commercial practices and is not for publication. However, as with any information gathered by a regulator, members of the public may request access to it. If this happens, measures will be taken to protect the data.
Why do regulatory authorities like the AMF and the FSCO need to gather information regarding legal proceedings?
Québec and Ontario are reviewing the relevance of gathering information on legal proceedings initiated against businesses. Although the information collected using complaint reporting by businesses is incomplete, it provides an overview of the types and nature of complaints likely to lead to legal proceedings. Such information helps regulatory authorities determine potential information needs with respect to legal proceedings.
Am I concerned by the guidance intended for independent representatives and firms with only one representative?
This guidance concerns you if your firm has only one representative (during the reference period) or if you are an independent representative governed by the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services This link will open in a new window.
In keeping with its push to reduce administrative and regulatory burden, the AMF expects independent representatives and firms with only one representative to file a report in accordance with the established procedures only if they have complaints to report. The AMF will presume that an independent representative or firm that has only one representative does not have any complaints to report if they do not file a complaint report.
Do I have to report complaints through the complaint report if I am a member of the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO)?
No. If you are a dealer member of the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO), you must report complaints through ComSet.
Considering that this system allows dealer members to report client complaints and disciplinary matters to CIRO, it has been decided, further to an agreement between CIRO and the AMF, that CIRO will send complaint reports to the AMF based on the information reported by members through ComSet.
If a consumer sidesteps the normal complaint process by communicating their complaint directly to a higher level, such as the CEO or the President, do I have to report the complaint through the complaint report?
When an initial expression of dissatisfaction by a consumer is communicated directly to a higher level, it will not be considered a complaint where the dissatisfaction is resolved in the regular course of the business’s activities.
If a complainant communicates their complaint directly to the individuals responsible for business oversight and those individuals are also responsible for complaint processing, how must the definition of complaint be applied?
The complaint process of each business is adapted to the size and needs of the business. Generally, a business with a small number of employees will not have a multilevel complaint process. In this case, the definition of a complaint stipulates that:
“Businesses without a multilevel structure for processing complaints must consider a client’s dissatisfaction to be a complaint when it persists after a reasonable attempt has been made by the business to settle the matter.”
This statement is included to recognize the fact that, for some businesses, the fist person to receive a complaint is also the person authorized to review ongoing decisions made at the operational level.
How do I apply the definition of a complaint in claims adjustment?
In claims adjustment, the claims adjuster is the one who generally makes ongoing decisions regarding complaints about the claims adjustment process.
In certain businesses, depending on the nature and the cost of the claim, the claims adjuster may need final approval from their supervisor or the claims department manager. In a situation where the complaint cannot be settled at the level of the person who gave final authorization, the complaint must be reported through the complaint report.
In the case of group insurance plans, do I have to report complaints through the complaint report by territory of residence of the complainant?
If a consumer does not file a complaint but, instead, initiates legal proceedings against my business, do I have to treat the legal proceedings as a complaint?
Although, in certain cases, such situations may be considered a complaint according to the definition, regulatory authorities like the AMF and the FSCO realize that it would be difficult for businesses to report these complaints given that they are not usually taken charge of by the department responsible for complaints processing within the business. However, we presume that most consumers would attempt to communicate directly with the business first before taking the matter to court.
Reporting tool (Complaint report)
Since November 7, 2022, the way complaints are entered and reported has been harmonized. Complaint entries must be completed on the new “Complaint reporting” section, which is only accessible via AMF E-Services for businesses.
What do I have to indicate as the outcome of the complaint in a situation where I notify the consumer of their right to involve or transfer the complaint to an independent third party?
If the consumer involves or transfers the complaint to an independent third party such as the General Insurance OmbudService (GIO), the Canadian Life and Health Insurance OmbudService (CLHIO) or the AMF, you can simply indicate “agreement not reached” when you add the complaint (in the Processing of the complaint record section).
This occurs when a complaint is not resolved further to the complaint process and the complainant has received a final letter explaining your firm's final position or final offer and your business has notified the complainant of their right to request an independent examination of the complaint record or its transfer.
Do I have to report complainant-initiated legal proceedings through the complaint report if the complaint has already been closed and reported through the complaint report?
The business only has to reply “yes” to the question about legal proceedings if it is aware when submitting their complaint report that the complainant has instituted legal proceedings.
Some details may not yet be known to you at the time you enter the information for a particular complaint. Also, depending on complaint progress, new information might be communicated to you after the complaint has been reported. Inform us of any new facts by updating the information. The updated information will be submitted to us with your next report.
Information relating to the CRS is available if you only wish to consult your previous declarations:
CRS | How do I obtain a user code and password for accessing the CRS?
Once your business is registered with the AMF, we will provide you with the tools and instructions needed to access the CRS. However:
- if you have forgotten your password, retrieve it using the function “Forgot your password? This link will open in a new window, accessible from the CRS login page.
- if you have forgotten your user code, contact our Information Centre.
NOTE that the new “Complaint reporting” platform is integrated into AMF E-Services effective November 7, 2022.
CRS | What do I do if my account for accessing the CRS has been deactivated?
After five unsuccessful attempts to enter your user code or password, the system becomes inactive as a security measure. You will then receive error message 003 "You cannot log in: Your user account was deactivated”.
You will have to wait 24 hours before trying again.
NOTE that the new “Complaint reporting” platform is integrated into AMF E-Services effective November 7, 2022.