Complaints and Reports Frequently Asked Questions

These questions and the answers to them are intended as general guidance to the most common questions and issues surrounding complaints.  The responses are not legal or practice advice and are not intended as such.  For more detailed information on the subject, readers should review the relevant statutes, regulations and standards of practice and consult with legal counsel.

Index of Questions

How do I make a complaint?
Where can I get guidance before I send a complaint to the College?
Who can complain?
Is there a time limit to complain?
Can I complain about fees?
How are complaints handled?
Can the panel conduct a more detailed investigation?
Who reviews the results of the investigation?
What can the ICRC do?
How do people find out what a panel of the ICRC decided?
Can I withdraw a complaint during the process?
How long does the complaint process take?
What if I disagree with the panel’s decision and/or reasons?
Is any part of the complaints process made public?
Can I use the College’s decision in other proceedings?

Questions and Answers

How do I make a complaint?

For the College to consider a complaint, you must record it, typically in writing.  Send it to CONO by mail, email or fax, and include the following:

  • The name of the Naturopathic Doctor.  If you do not know the name, provide as much detail and identifying information as possible.
  • Your full name and contact information. (The College cannot respond to anonymous complaints.)
  • The patient’s name (when relevant), if you’re submitting the complaint on someone else’s behalf.
  • Details of the problem (specific concerns, place and date where the incident or issue occurred, etc.).
  • The names of other individuals or witnesses who could provide the College with additional information.
  • Any other information that could help the College process the complaint.
People who make a complaint are active participants in the process, so cannot be anonymous.

Where can I get guidance before I send a complaint to the College?

If you have a concern about communication, records, or if you have questions about the treatment you've received, we strongly encourage you to first speak with your naturopathic doctor.  If this is not successful, our Regulatory Education Specialist can answer your questions and help you understand the Standards that NDs must follow.

Who can complain?

Anyone, including patients, their family members, work colleagues, employers, insurers, and others.

Is there a time limit to complain?

No, so take time to gather the information you need to back up the complaint.  You can also raise concerns about something that may have happened long ago.  However, it’s best to let the College know about an issue as soon as possible, so that we can act in a timely way.

Can I complain about fees?

Yes.  The College can investigate inappropriate business practices, which includes charging an excessive fee, or other inappropriate financial arrangements for naturopathic services or products.

However, the College does not have authority to order monetary compensation for you from the naturopath.  This can only be achieved through civil proceedings.

How are complaints handled?

When we receive a complaint, we file it with the College Registrar, acknowledge receipt, and refer it to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC).

The ICRC’s mandate (as defined in the RHPA) is to consider concerns about the practice, conduct or health of a member professional, where their ability to practise according to the standards of the profession may be at risk. These concerns can be in the form of complaints from the public, and reports received from other regulated health professionals, employers or other organizations (e.g. the police).

A panel of the ICRC will consider the complaint.  This is a small group that includes at least two Naturopathic Doctors (to represent expertise in the field) and one member of the public (to represent the voice of the public). College staff are not members of the ICRC, so are not part of this body’s decisions.  As part of the process, the College must inform the ND of the complaint and provide a copy of it. The ND has the right to respond to the complaint. In most cases, this response will be shared with the complainant, who can then comment on it. NDs may also be asked to release of any relevant medical records, which in this case does not require patient consent. All of these documents will go to the panel for consideration.

Can the panel conduct a more detailed investigation?

It can, to obtain additional information. In these cases, an investigator appointed by the Registrar could interview witnesses, obtain medical records and other documents, and speak with co-workers and employers.

Who reviews the results of the investigation?

Following the investigation, and after receiving all supporting documentation, a panel of the ICRC reviews the report of the investigation and decides how to deal with the complaint.

What can the ICRC do?

Depending on the nature of the complaint, the panel can:
  • Take no further action.
  • Issue a Letter of Advice or Caution.
  • Require the member to complete a specified continuing education or remediation program (SCERP), which may include education, supervision, and/or monitoring, and may require further evaluation upon completion.

    A summary of the SCERP is posted to the member’s profile on the public register until the SCERP has been completed.

  • Require the member to appear before a panel of the ICRC to be cautioned.

    A summary of the caution is posted to the member’s profile on the public register for two years after the caution.

  • Accept the member's undertaking to improve his or her practice or to restrict his or her practice, which may include education, supervision, and/or monitoring. The terms of the undertaking are posted to the member’s profile on the public register.
  • Accept an undertaking from the member to resign and to never apply or re-apply for registration as a naturopathic doctor in Ontario, which is posted to the member’s profile on the public register.
  • Refer specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee.
  • Refer the matter to another panel of the ICRC for incapacity proceedings if there are concerns suggesting that the member is suffering from a physical or mental incapacity.

How do people find out what a panel of the ICRC decided?
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Unless the matter is referred to the Discipline Committee, or another panel of the ICRC to conduct health inquiries, both parties will receive a copy of the panel’s decision and reasons for the decision.

Can I withdraw a complaint during the process?

Yes.  However, once a matter has been brought before the ICRC, they have an obligation to conduct an investigation and make a decision.

How long does the complaint process take?

By law, a complaint should be closed within 150 calendar days. If this isn’t possible, the College will provide you with updates after 150 days. You can contact the College any time for a status update about your complaint.

What if I disagree with the panel’s decision and/or reasons?

Either party has the right to appeal to the Health Professions Review and Appeal Board (HPARB), if they feel, for instance, that the ICRC’s investigation wasn’t thorough enough, or that the decision was unreasonable. HPARB is an external review Board, and is not a part of the College.


Is any part of the complaints process made public?

All information about the complaints process, including the name of the complainant and the ND, is confidential. The results of an investigation remain on the member’s file but are not available to the public. However, where a panel of the ICRC requires a member to appear before the panel to be cautioned or to complete a specified continuing education or remediation program (SCERP), a summary of the outcome is published on the Naturopathic Doctors Register (accessible on the website).

If a matter is referred to the Discipline Committee, the RHPA requires the information about the referral and the accompanying allegations to be made public, and available on the College’s register.

Hearings before a panel of the Discipline Committee are open to the public. The College publishes information about upcoming hearings on its website.  


Can I use the College’s decision in other proceedings?

The RHPA doesn’t allow for the use of a College decision or document generated in College proceedings in civil legal proceedings.  Therefore, even if a finding of professional misconduct is made against a member, it cannot be used in a civil suit.