Financial Services

If you have a complaint or a problem with a financial institution under federal responsibility, please follow the steps below, given by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).

The steps must be followed in order, and you should take notes during each step of the process so that you have a record of your conversations and progress in case you are asked.

All banks, and all trust, loan and insurance companies, and retail associations that fall under federal responsibility (or that are incorporated at the federal level) must have a complaint-handling process in place for individuals and small businesses. This process details how a customer may make a complaint, and it must be available in all branches of the institution, on its website, and must be sent in writing to anyone who requests it. For more detailed information on your own financial institution’s complaint-handling process contact the FCAC.

Step 1: Local level

First, try to resolve your problem by dealing directly with the manager or customer service representative of your financial institution. This would involve speaking with branch staff or the branch’s local representative, or someone at their call centre.

Step 2: Senior level and/or internal ombudsperson

If following Step 1 does not resolve your complaint, you can ask to be referred to a senior staff member, a customer care group or an internal ombudsperson — the person in charge of investigating complaints from consumers.

Step 3: Third-party review

If you are not satisfied with the solution proposed after Step 2, in most cases, you can have your complaint reviewed by an independent third party, also called an external ombudsperson. The table below gives you the contact details of some of the major third party complaint review services in Canada’s financial services sector. Who you contact will depend on the type of business you have been dealing with.

Type of business Third-Party Reviewer
Banks and trust companies Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI)
Life and health products and services issued by life insurance companies Ombudservice for Life & Health Insurance (OLHI) (formerly Canadian Life and Health Insurance OmbudService (CLHIO))
Home, car and business insurance General Insurance OmbudService (GIO)

Step 4: Provincial regulator (optional)

In some cases, depending on the type of financial institution you are dealing with, or the type of complaint you have, you can also contact your provincial regulator. Examples of financial services providers that are regulated by provincial regulators include investment dealers, credit unions, caisses populaires and mortgage brokers. In addition, life and health insurance companies, as well as general insurance companies (e.g., home and auto) are regulated by provincial regulators for market conduct matters. Please find below a list of regulators in your province or territory.

Tips for Making a Complaint:

  • Do not skip any of the steps in the complaint-handling process, and follow the steps in order. This will speed up your request.
  • Make sure you take notes at each step in the complaint-handling process. When you go through each step, you will need to know the following details:
    • the name of the people you spoke with in the previous steps
    • the dates these discussions took place
    • what, if anything, was decided.
  • Always keep the original copy of any document related to your complaint. If you must send a document, send a copy, not the original.
  • For some specific types of insurance disputes, an individual may be required to access a provincial mediation process.
  • If your complaint involves an investment dealer or mutual fund dealer, you might wish to consult the following complaint handling guides:

Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada

Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada

Note: The complaint-handling process is a less expensive alternative than going to court to have your complaint resolved. However, if you decide to go to court, you can no longer follow the complaint-handling process described in this document.

Securities Commissions

Every province has a securities commission to administer and enforce securities legislation. Securities include stocks, bonds and mutual funds. The commissions' mandates include protecting investors from unfair, improper and fraudulent practices. Consumers may complain to the commissions. Given the confidential nature of the complaint, some commissions request that complaints be sent in hard copy rather than electronically.

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Important Notices