In accordance with our Values and Commitments, we seek to provide exemplary service and resolve inquiries in a timely manner.
‘Inquiries’ of an ‘applicable nature’ which are ‘Trivial’, ‘Frivolous’, ‘Vexatious’, ‘False’ or ‘made in Bad Faith’ can consume a disproportionate amount of CVC staff time and resources and impede staff from attending to other essential work and/or adversely impact the business of the corporation. This policy establishes the process to be used by all CVC staff when a party makes an inquiry of an applicable nature involving a ‘pattern of conduct’. This is intended to be a process or remedy of last resort, after reasonable and appropriate efforts have been made to respond to an inquiry.
- Applicable Nature: refers to any inquiry that is Trivial, Frivolous, Vexatious, False or made in Bad Faith as defined in this policy.
- Bad Faith (made in): means brought with an ulterior motive: for example, motivated by ill will, hostility, malice, personal animosity, lack of fairness or impartiality, lack of total honesty such as withholding information.
- False Claims: refers to a statement that is not true, that can include disparaging remarks about our staff/professionals.
- Frivolous: When an inquiry is either clearly devoid of substance, lacking in factual basis, absent an air of reality, lacking in proper seriousness, or without importance.
- Inquiry(ies): shall include in person communication or communication by any manner (including, but not limited to – phone, text, social media posts, emails, hard copy, video or any other means), wherein a party sets out a question, expresses a complaint, seeks information, provides commentary, opinion or attempts to undermine or discredit staff or the corporation.
- Party(ies): refers to any person or persons acting on behalf of themselves or an organization, entity or in the interest of another person (not their own interest) or a cause, that initiates an inquiry.
- Pattern of Conduct: occurs when, on three or more occasions, a party engages in one or more of the actions set out in this policy.
- Trivial: means trifling; inconsiderable; of small worth or importance. Trivial does not require an assessment of reasonableness of the matter.
- Vexatious: When an inquiry is clearly repetitious of one or mor previous inquiries that all share substantially the same theme and have already been determined. Attempts to abuse or misuse the inquiry process. Vexatious inquiries include, without limitation, any one or more of the following:
- Persistently bringing inquiries to determine an issue or matter that has already been determined by a competent body or authority.
- Persistently bringing inquires that cannot succeed or that have no reasonable expectation of success.
- Persistently brining inquiries for improper purpose.
- Instructing CVC staff how to address a matter where the person has no authority to provide such instruction.
- Inappropriately using previously raised grounds and issues in subsequent inquires
- “Interaction of Concern” refers to any interaction between a member of the public and staff, regardless of the manner, that are Threatening, Intimidating, Harassing, Abusive or result in Physical Harm or Mental Distress. Inquiries that amount to an interaction of concern will be handled as outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and CVC’s Workplace Anti-violence, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment Policy (HR 01 – 01). Nothing in this policy shall override
remedies that are set out in law or regulation for any acts or omissions that are offences in law.
A pattern of conduct occurs when, on three or more occasions within a six month timeframe, a party engages in one or more of the following actions:
- Brings inquiries concerning an issue which staff have already investigated and determined to be groundless and/or resolved; or brings inquiries which is substantially similar to an issue which staff have already investigated and determined to be groundless and/or resolved (e.g. with respect to the same decision or the same property), or
- Engages in unreasonable conduct which is abusive of the complaints process, including, but not limited to one or more of the following:
- Making excessive or multiple lines of enquiry regarding the same issue (e.g. pursuing an inquiry with staff in multiple CVC departments and/or an elected official simultaneously) while their complaint is in the process of being investigated (whether done simultaneously or over an extended period of time).
- Repeatedly challenging a response provided or the findings of an inquiry and the set outcome and/or denying that an adequate response has been given.
- Refusing to accept that an issue falls outside the scope or the jurisdiction of CVC.
- Making demands that the party knows or ought to know are beyond the control or influence of CVC (example non-CVC social media content, or that of another
organizations or entity).
- Making excessive demands on the time and resources of staff with lengthy or frequent communications, by any manner, seeking responses within an unreasonable timeframe or expecting an immediate response.
- Making statements or providing representations that the party knows or ought to know are incorrect, or persuading others to do so (may cause one, some or all parties involved to be subject to actions under this policy).
- Demanding special treatment from staff by, for example, not following the normal chain of inquiry and immediately demanding to speak to any senior staff (supervisor, manager, director or CAO) where not warranted.
- Making unjustified statements about staff who are trying to address the inquiry from the party and seeking to have the staff replaced with other staff.
- Using new inquiries or submitting minor additions/variations to make a new inquiry or a modified inquiry to resurrect issues which were investigated and completed in a previous inquiry(ies).
- Changing the basis of the inquiry as the investigation progresses and/or denying statements the party made at an earlier stage.
- Refusing to co-operate with the investigation process while the party still seeks to have the inquiry resolved.
- Falsely identifies themselves as a representative, agent, contractor or employee of CVC or suggests they speak on behalf of CVC (in any form or capacity) on any matter.
- Failing to clearly identify the precise issues of the inquiry, despite reasonable efforts of staff to help them clarify the nature or matter of the inquiry.
Two-part Test to Determine Applicability of this Policy
- Nature of the inquiry: does the inquiry fall under one or more of the terms defined in this policy (Frivolous, Vexatious, Trivial, Bad Faith or a False Claim)?
- Pattern of conduct: does the conduct of the party, regardless of the inquiry manner, represent one or more of the actions listed under pattern of conduct?
Procedure for Continued Inquiries of an Applicable Nature
An inquiry should be acknowledged based on the timeframe set out in the CVC Customer Service Standards.
- Matters of an urgent nature should have an appropriate response time.
- Matters of a non-urgent nature should be responded to in an appropriate timeframe, based on the nature of the inquiry.
- Regardless if the inquiry is urgent or non-urgent, a timeline for response should be communicated to the party as soon as practicable, with updates provided as necessary.
Save and except, where the party or their inquiry is determined to be applicable to the processes or remedies set out in this policy.
Staff must establish, through the documented words and/or actions of a party (e.g. emails, letters and staff notes reporting a conversation or incident) that the inquiry is of an applicable nature before applying the processes outlined in this policy.
- If an employee believes that an inquiry is of an applicable nature, the employee should consult with their manager/supervisor, provide any supporting materials (e.g. emails received from the party) and advise the manager/supervisor of the steps that have been taken to date, including:
- The length of time that staff have been in contact with the party and the amount of correspondence that has been exchanged with the party;
- The number of complaints that the party has brought and the status of each; and
- The nature of the party’s behaviour.
Note: Employees may choose to contact their manager/supervisor prior to a pattern of conduct being established (i.e. the behaviour has occurred on less than three occasions) if the party’s behaviour is extreme, or the party is known based on prior inquires.
Managers/supervisors are responsible for reviewing the information provided by staff and determining if the party’s behaviour should be escalated to the appropriate director(s). Before escalating to the director(s) the manager/supervisor must be satisfied that:
- The inquiry has been properly investigated;
- Communication with the party has been adequate; and
- The party is not attempting to provide any significant new information when contacting staff.
Directors are responsible for reviewing the information provided by the manager/ supervisor in a timely manner. Directors may contact other CVC directors/staff to determine if the party is contacting multiple CVC staff/departments.
If, after reviewing the circumstances, the director determines that action under this policy should be taken, the director will determine the appropriate action(s) in accordance with this policy. A warning letter will be sent to the party indicating the actions to be taken, when the action will be put into
effect, if the inquiry is of an applicable nature and the inquiries from the party continue. If the inquiry includes multiple issues, the letter may also outline the priority assigned to resolving and responding to the inquiries.
The determination under this policy shall be issued by a director or the CAO.
Actions available to directors under this policy may include, but are not limited to:
- Limiting the party’s correspondence with staff to a particular format (e.g. email only), time (e.g. telephone calls only at specific times and days of the week) or duration (e.g.
conversations may last no longer than ten minutes).
- Limiting the party to a particular point of contact at CVC (where possible, other staff members should be advised not to respond to the party but to refer them to the point of contact).
- Requiring any face-to-face (direct) interactions between the party and staff to take place in the presence of an appropriate witness.
- Requiring that party to produce full disclosure of documentation or information before staff
will further investigate an inquiry.
- Instructing staff not to respond to further correspondence from the party regarding the complaint or a substantially similar issue.
- Instructing staff not to investigate any complaints regarding an issue that has already been investigated or which is substantially similar to an issue which has already been investigated, and/or
- In extreme circumstances, instructing staff to severely reduce or completely cease responses to further complaints and correspondence from the party.
If deemed appropriate, the director may set up a face-to-face meeting with the party and relevant staff (if applicable) in order to identify any misunderstandings and attempt to resolve the issue.
If a party disregards the warning letter and continues to submit inquires of an applicable nature, the director will advise the CAO or his/her delegate that the actions outlined in the warning letter will take effect immediately. The Director will advise the Leadership Team (All Directors and the CAO), the Board Chair, and the appropriate Board Member(s) of the action CVC has taken and the reasons
Persistent and extreme party behaviour that amount to an “interaction of concern” and threatens the safety or security of staff, contractors, agents or Board members will not be tolerated. This behaviour will be handled as outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and CVC’s Workplace Anti-violence, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment Policy (HR 01–01).
Complaints on a separate/new issue from a person who has come under this policy will be treated on their individual merits. The applicable Director, in consultation with the relevant manager/supervisor, will decide if any restrictions which are currently in effect should be applied to the new complaint.
When any restrictions are put in place, a review date will be set. This will be based on the circumstances of the case and could be for a period of 6 months or longer depending on the severity of the situation. The status of the subject person will be reviewed by the relevant Manager (or designate) on or before the review date. The subject person (where possible) will be informed of the outcome of the review. The Director may extend the restrictions beyond the review date where appropriate. The subject person shall be notified of the extension and be given another date for review.
Staff are responsible for maintaining detailed records of their interactions with the party (emails, notes of telephone conversations and notes of in-person discussions) in order to justify any action being taken to restrict the party’s access to CVC. Records must be retained in accordance with best practice or applicable policy
The party may seek a review by the CAO of any process or remedy implemented under this policy. Depending on the situation the CAO may or may not review the matter with the party. The decision of the CAO shall be administratively final.