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Students learning about moving water river reading skills on a canoe course on the Slave River in NWT.
Location: Slave River, Northwest Territories. Photo credit: Priscilla Haskin

Paddle Canada Grievance Policy

The Paddle Canada Grievance Policy is to provide an outlet for Paddle Canada Members, stakeholders and staff to voice a grievance and to seek resolution of a grievance.


Grievances may be brought by any person or group against a member, policy or agent of Paddle Canada. They may include, but are not limited to, matters of an instructional nature, inappropriate conduct, or administrative process.



  • a wrong considered as grounds for complaint, or something believed to cause distress, and
  • a complaint or resentment, as against an unjust or unfair act.

Grievance Officer is a Paddle Canada Board Member that:

  • is seen as fair, neutral and unbiased,
  • chosen by the Paddle Canada Board,
  • holds the term for a one (1) year term,
  • is the initial contact person for all grievances,
  • does not share any information concerning the nature of the grievance with other Board Members, Paddle Canada Members, staff, etc. unless the grievance is directed to the Board or appealed to the Board,
  • receives, logs and forwards complaints to the Grievance Committee,
  • ensures the grievance is dealt with in a timely manner,
  • ensures all parties have the necessary means to proceed with a grievance, and
  • does not have a voice within the Grievance Committee or on the outcome.

Grievance Committee

Composition and Term

  • made up of two (2) individuals from a pool of up to thirteen (13) volunteers (one from each region whenever possible),
    • up to thirteen (13) volunteers may be chosen by the Paddle Canada Board Members,
    • the two (2) individuals for the Grievance Committee will be chosen by the Grievance Officer,
    • the Grievance Committee Members can not be connected to the complainant or respondent or the region in which the complainant or respondent works or resides.
  • rotate through grievances whenever possible,
  • hold a term for up to 2 years,
  • can either be member or non member of Paddle Canada,
  • does not hold a current instructor trainer certification for a minimum of 3 years,
  • should hold some mediation experience, and
  • is seen as fair and unbiased within the community.


The time in which a volunteer holds a position. Terms may be extended by the Board of Directors.


An individual or group of individuals that puts forth a complaint or grievance.


An individual or group of individuals that responds to the complaint or grievance.

Process of Filing a Grievance with Paddle Canada

Solved by Parties

In all cases it is highly recommended that complainants attempt to resolve issues at the lowest level by communicating or negotiating with the other party before contacting the Paddle Canada Grievance Officer. If the parties cannot reach a resolution, the complainant may submit a grievance to the Paddle Canada Grievance Officer by phone, email, or letter.

[email protected]

First Contact and Grievance Committee Engaged

  • The Grievance Officer will log and acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 48 hours. The Grievance Officer will not comment on or add any judgement statements to the complainant (for example: “I am sure it was a misunderstanding” or “maybe this is a conflict of personalities”).
  • The Grievance Office will then invite two (2) members of the Grievance Committee Pool to commence the review phase of the grievance. The Grievance Committee will connect with the complainant and aim to provide a resolution within 30 days.
  • The Grievance Committee will not offer any personal judgement statements to the complainant or the respondent within this process.

Review Phase

  • The Grievance Committee will investigate the complaint by reviewing all material from the Complainant, the Respondent and receive responses from other party or parties if needed.
  • The Grievance Committee may request additional information from other committees (e.g. Program Development Committees on program and instructor expectation, guidelines, procedures, program material, etc.).
  • Personal reference checks offered by the complainant or respondent are not required as they would be biased.
  • The Grievance Committee will receive past complaints, if any, on other complaints made by the Complainant or Respondent.
  • The Grievance Committee may request additional advice from members from the Grievance Committee pool. These additional members will not be connected to either party, region or work.
  • Notification may be given to the Complainant and Respondent if additional time is needed by the Grievance Committee (to a maximum of 30 days).
  • The Grievance Committee shall make a ruling, along with its reasons, to the Complainant and Respondent from among a number of possible outcomes, including: no action; coaching; a written reprimand; suspension of membership for a specified period to develop skills or further investigation; and termination of membership.
  • The Grievance Officer shall inform the parties of the Grievance Committee ruling.

Outcome: Discipline Outcomes

Typically, progressive discipline will progress through the following steps:

  1. Coaching – informal or formal
  2. Verbal Warning – formal
  3. Written Warning – formal
  4. Suspension – formal
  5. Termination

With each ruling, the Grievance Committee will provide a written document to: (1) alert of the problem, provide a reiteration of the correct organizational policy regarding the violation, (2) advise them of the consequences associated with further infractions, and (3) provide a process towards a method of improvement. An example of a method of improvement is participation in a training or coaching session with a Grievance Committee appointed Instructor Trainer.

Degrees of discipline shall be used in relation to the problem at hand. As the situation dictates, based on the past performances of the instructor, and the seriousness of the violation, Paddle Canada/Pagaie Canada reserves the right to skip the four step disciplinary process and move straight to termination of membership where necessary.

Appeal Phase

If the Complainant or Respondent is unsatisfied with the resolution by the Grievance Committee they can appeal the decision to the Paddle Canada Board of Directors within 30 days of issuance of the Grievance Committee’s ruling. The Board of Directors has 10 working days to acknowledge the receipt of the appeal to the complainant.

The board will then reply to the Complainant within 30 days with one of the following responses:

  • Notification that more time is required to examine or resolve the grievance (to a maximum of 30 days); or
  • To provide the Complainant or Respondent with a resolution or recommendation to their grievance.

The decision of the Board is the final regarding the grievances: there is no further level of appeal.


The identity of the Complainant and Respondent and the details of a grievance will always be kept confidential and shared only with those members who are required to have knowledge of the particulars of a grievance as required by their duties.

Conflict of Interest

When either the Grievance Officer or members of the Grievance Committee find themselves in a conflict of interest with a grievance, they shall recuse themselves from discussion and arbitration thereof. The Paddle Canada Board shall elect another Grievance Officer. Details of the grievance shall not be shared with any member who is in conflict of interest with the grievance process.

Referral to the Police

Where a grievance is found to contain evidence of criminal or suspected criminal activity the matter shall be referred to the police.The Paddle Canada Member may be suspended until the completion of this judicial process.

Human Rights Complaints

The Complainant does have the right to file a complaint with their provincial Human Rights Commission. There are time limits to these complaints so individuals should seek this information out. For example: in Alberta a complaint must be made within twelve months from the time of the alleged incident that is a violation of the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act. If there is an open investigation that Paddle Canada Member may be suspended until the completion of the investigation.

Last updated: January, 2017