A person may file a complaint regarding the professional conduct of a speech-language pathologist or audiologist. All complaints are taken very seriously. The legislated obligations of the Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (ACSLPA) in dealing with complaints are stated in Section 4 of the HPA. Personal information of complainants, speech-language pathologists and audiologists, and other individuals will be collected by ACSLPA for use in the complaint, investigation, and discipline processes under the HPA. The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) governs ACSLPA’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information.
The following provides an overview of the steps in this process.
Any person who has a concern about the professional practice of a speech-language pathologist or audiologist is encouraged to first discuss their concern directly with that individual when appropriate. If the two parties are unable to find a mutually satisfactory solution and resolve their difficulties, then the person who has the concern may wish to pursue the matter with the supervisor or employer (if applicable) of the speech-language pathologist or audiologist. If the issue in question is still not resolved in a satisfactory manner or if the issue falls beyond what can reasonably be discussed with registered member, a formal complaint should be made to ACSLPA.
Any person who believes that a regulated member of ACSLPA has not provided professional services in a competent, safe or ethical manner, may submit a written complaint to the Complaints Director of the College. A person making a complaint may be:
A complaint may also be made about a former regulated member within two years of the date that the individual ceased to be registered with ACSLPA.
Under the HPA, employers have a legal obligation to inform a College if the employment of a regulated member is terminated, suspended, or if the member has resigned for reasons related to unprofessional conduct.
Complaints must be submitted to the Complaints Director in writing. Written complaints must include the following:
ACSLPA encourages those making a complaint to fill out the Complaints Form which contains the minimum requirements to initiate a complaint. In circumstances where individuals are unable to use the Complaints Form, individuals may contact the ACSLPA Complaints Director directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-537-0589.
Once a written complaint has been received by ACSLPA, the Complaints Director will undertake a formal review to ensure fairness to both the complainant and to the speech-language pathologist or audiologist. The review involves the following:
Even if a written complaint is not received by ACSLPA, if the Complaints Director has reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct of a regulated or former member constitutes unprofessional conduct, the Complaints Director may treat the matter as a complaint and act on it.
Within 30 days of receiving a complaint, the Complaints Director must give written notice to the complainant of the action that will be taken. The Complaints Director may:
Note: In cases involving allegations of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct, please refer to that section on our website for additional information.
The following provides a brief overview of what may occur next, depending upon the decision of the Complaints Director with respect to the action to be taken.
Certain types of concerns and problems are dealt with more effectively through discussion and resolution between the concerned parties. When appropriate, the Complaints Director will encourage the concerned parties to communicate with each other and resolve the issues surrounding the complaint. With the consent of both parties, the Complaints Director may also work with the parties in an attempt to resolve the complaint.
The Complaints Director may also suggest to the parties that they pursue an alternative complaint resolution process to resolve the matter. This process includes involvement of a neutral third party who acts as a mediator to assist the parties to achieve a resolution and come to some form of agreement between themselves.
If none of these efforts to resolve a complaint are successful, the Complaints Director will determine which further action will be taken.
Note: Facilitated Resolution will not apply to allegations that may cause further harm to complainant including, but not limited to those allegations of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.
Assessments and Investigations
During the process of dealing with a complaint, the Complaints Director may determine that an assessment or investigation is required for the purpose of obtaining further information regarding the matter. Speciﬁcally, the Complaints Director may:
In some cases, the Complaints Director may perform the investigation and/or in some cases, an independent professional investigator hired by ACSLPA will conduct the investigation. At times the investigator may be a qualified, unbiased speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Investigators may electronically record interviews with the complainant, the regulated speech-language pathologists and audiologists and other witnesses, to ensure the integrity of the investigation by providing an actual recording of the interview.
The HPA states the process for an investigation, specifying the following:
During the investigation process, the investigated person may be subject to conditions on their practice permit or suspension of their practice permit, pending the outcome of a professional conduct hearing.
Information that is gathered by ACSLPA during an investigation is shared for the purposes of conducting the investigation or discipline processes or when authorized by law. In addition to sharing written complaints with investigated speech-language pathologists and audiologists, certain other information or documents gathered during the investigation may be shared with parties or witnesses in order to conﬁrm their accuracy or to obtain statements and evidence in relation to the investigation.
If a matter proceeds to a hearing, information gathered during the investigation will be provided to investigated speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Information gathered during the investigation or disclosed during a hearing may also become available to the public through the discipline process.
Upon completion of the investigation, a report must be prepared and submitted to the Complaints Director. Based on the information provided in the report, the Complaints Director will determine which of the following actions will be taken.
Dismissal of the Complaint
If the decision is made to dismiss the complaint, the Complaints Director must give notice to the complainant of the dismissal and of their right to apply for a review by the Complaint Review Committee.
Members of the public and members of the College should obtain their own legal advice regarding specific interpretations of the HPA and regulations and the application of the process to their specific circumstances.