Conciliation Process

INFORMATION SHEET

A printable PDF version of this information sheet is available.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission is launching revisions to its complaint resolution process. The changes will affect the way that complaints accepted after January 1, 2019 are processed. The Commission is responding to the need to change the complaint resolution process to ensure that the large volume of complaints received are resolved in a timely, effective, and fair manner.
 
The goal of the revised complaint resolution process is to resolve complaints within one year of acceptance. Streamlining services and maximizing the use of technology will assist in better serving the needs of Albertans.
 
This information sheet outlines the key components of the Commission’s revised conciliation process. For more information about the revised investigation process, please see the Commission’s Investigation Process information sheet.
 
All human rights complaints accepted after January 1, 2019, will be assigned to a human rights officer, who will review the complaint and response. The officer will either decide on an early resolution process, or determine the process most likely to bring the complaint to resolution. The file will then be assigned to either the conciliation process or investigation process. Each complaint will receive only one process towards resolution. This information sheet explains the steps involved in the revised conciliation process.
 
The officer will communicate, by email or mail, what information should be provided by the parties before the next step of review. It is important for parties to provide that information as promptly as possible.
 
When a complaint is assigned to the conciliation process, it will be assigned to a human rights officer (conciliator) expert in human rights law and conciliation. The conciliator will review the information already collected on the file, and may contact the complainant and respondent requesting additional information. All information provided by each party will be shared with the other party and an opportunity provided to comment on the information as part of the fair and reasonable conciliation process. It is very important for the parties to cooperate in the conciliation and to respond to the time limits set out for response. These time limits ensure an efficient and effective conciliation process so that delay does not prejudice either party.
 
Conciliation is a voluntary, non-adversarial way to resolve complaints. The success rate for satisfactory resolutions is high. The conciliator is knowledgeable about human rights law and will help the parties understand the issues in the complaint and what types of resolutions are common in such complaints. The Commission also imposes a 60-day period, which is a reasonable amount of time to exchange information and meet amongst the parties to discuss resolving the complaint. If the parties cannot reach a resolution within 60 days, the conciliation will be considered unsuccessful. 
 
If the conciliation does not successfully resolve the complaint, a conciliator’s memo will be prepared and shared with the parties. In some cases, the conciliator will discuss with the parties whether a fair and reasonable settlement offer should be made. If such an offer is made and refused by the complainant, the conciliator may make a recommendation that the complaint be discontinued. Also, the complainant may choose to contact the conciliator and withdraw the complaint at any time during the conciliation process. 
 
The parties receive the opportunity to review the conciliator’s recommendations and comment on the conciliation memo before it is referred to the Director of the Commission (Director). The Director’s decision (as per section 22 of the Alberta Human Rights Act), considering the conciliation memo and any further relevant information provided by the parties, will be to either dismiss or discontinue the complaint, or report to the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals that the parties have been unable to settle.
 
If the Director dismisses the complaint because it has no merit, or discontinues the complaint on the basis that a fair and reasonable offer to settle has been made and refused, then the parties will be informed and the complaint will be closed. Information on requesting a review of the Director’s decision is available at albertahumanrights.ab.ca.
 
If the case is referred to the tribunal, please see information on the tribunal process.


December 2019

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