The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has released a proposed Guideline on Complaint-Handling Procedures for and Authorized Foreign Banks. The proposed new Guideline will support the implementation of the new Financial Consumer Protection Framework in the Bank Act. Banks are already responsible for setting out policies and procedures to ensure they deal with consumer complaints, and the Guideline sets out further principles and expectations for these policies and procedures, including principles of effectiveness, timeliness and accessibility. Employees who are designated as being responsible for either or both of implementing a bank’s policies and procedures, or receiving and dealing with complaints, are expected to have the experience, competencies and authority required to deal with complaints, and their titles should reflect that authority. Of note, the policies and procedures are expected to include an analysis of complaint data to identify opportunities to better serve the bank’s consumers. They are also to include mechanisms for identifying and remedying recurring or systemic issues, and tracking the causes of complaints to identify root causes. Where such issues have been identified, the policies are expected to ensure the bank provides redress and/or reimbursement to all affected consumers. Timelines for dealing with complaints internally are also set out in the Guideline. We are watching all the various proposals with respect to complaint-handling procedures closely, as changes in one sector of the financial ecosystem will likely affect others. Comments on the Guideline are due December 11, 2021.

October 29, 2021