Inquiries v. Complaints

It is important that the public and our stakeholders including the media understand the difference between an “inquiry” and a “complaint” as they relate to the process of receiving and addressing concerns of individuals who contact the Commission.

The Commission receives approximately 2500 inquiries each year by phone and in person. Inquiries are not the same as complaints.

In fact, many inquiries are unrelated to human rights issues, such as questions about how to access government or other services.  The Commission also receives hundreds of questions about human rights that do not relate to a complaint, such as:

  • Employers seeking advice on how to make accommodations for an employee with a disability;
  • Requests for organizational education sessions; and
  • Individuals who have no interest in filing a complaint but want to be able to speak with their employer/landlord/etc. after having gotten advice/information from the Commission related to their circumstance.

If an individual is inquiring about whether they have a potential complaint under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act, a human rights officer must make an assessment whether the Commission has jurisdiction to accept a complaint. The legal threshold for this is very low. 

So far in 2018, the Commission has received 104 complaint forms from individuals wishing to file a human rights complaint.. Of these, 102 complaints have been accepted by the Commission for investigation and 2 complaints were not accepted because it was determined the Commission did not have jurisdiction. This is consistent with previous years.

If a human rights officer at intake does not accept a complaint, those inquiring can request to have the matter reviewed by the senior human rights officer. If they are still not satisfied, they can seek a Judicial Review through the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

The Commission does not currently have a backlog of complaints.