Complaint Process

The CBC's Office of the Ombudsman deals with complaints about information programming.

We handle complaints by email, fax and regular mail, and because the process requires formal correspondence, we don’t launch complaint reviews via telephone.

The process itself involves first referring a complaint to programmers responsible for the relevant television, radio or online content. They are expected to answer you within 20 business days, and we pursue the matter and can launch a review if programmers have not responded within a reasonable time.

If you are dissatisfied with their response, you can then ask for a formal review. That review can involve research and interviews with the accountable programmers, journalists, experts and complainants. In some cases the reviews are routine and can take days; in some cases they require detailed research and can take weeks.

The reviews are first sent to complainants and programmers, then posted a day or so later online at Social media are used to note the review’s release.

The identities of complainants are made public, unless there are strong arguments made to shield their names.

Generally speaking, the CBC Ombudsman reviews news and information programming. If your complaint involves Sports, Arts, Entertainment or Children's programming, please visit the CBC Contact page to determine who should receive your correspondence.

For news or information items, contact the Ombudsman.

Complaints about Radio-Canada programs are addressed by

Annual Reports and Management Responses

Once a year, the Office of the Ombudsman summarizes activity and provides general observations about complaints, policies and other relevant matters. CBC News responds to those observations.

Here are the reports and responses in each recent fiscal year:

Correction of errors

The complaint involves the correction of errors that the complainant brought to CBC's attention. The first error took over a week to correct. Neither error was noted in a corrections and clarifications box on, violating CBC policy. ...

Headline about bid to move UN aviation agency

The complainant objected to a headline about Qatar's bid to move the International Civil Aviation Organization from Montreal to Doha. I found that the headline failed to capture the nuance. ...

A Universal Language

The complainant had concerns about the documentary A Universal Language. While there was no violation of policy, CBC should have included information about the funding of the comedy tour that was the subject of the documentary. ...

Going with a story not your own

The complainant questioned CBC reporting a story based on the work of the Toronto Star, which included some anonymous sources. I found the story was clear about which information was provided by the Star and which was confirmed by CBC. ...

Analysis vs opinion

This complaint raised questions about the point at which perspective and analysis in journalism becomes opinion; and about potential conflict of interest when reporters are sought out as speakers at events. ...

The third man

The complainant felt CBC had unfairly condemned Aaron Yoon in reports about the young Canadians who were involved in an attack on an Algerian gas plant. The scripts did not link Yoon to the attack on the plant. ...

Expert in B.C. police investigation

The complainant felt he was unfairly portrayed in stories about his work as a behavioural scientist in the case of the shooting of a citizen by a Vancouver police officer. There was no violation of CBC journalistic policy. ...

Justin Trudeau "Just watch me"

The complainant objected to the sub-headline, "Justin Trudeau tells Canada to 'just watch' him beat Prime Minister Stephen Harper." He said Trudeau "did not tell this to Canada..." There was no violation of CBC policy. Appropriate context was provided. ...

Essay about Republican Party

The complainant characterized Michael Enright's essay about the state of the Republican Party as a "rant" and said it lacked balance. I found that inflammatory language and some of Enright's observations detracted from the analysis. ...

U.S. President's visit to Israel

The complainant objected to what he felt were two instances of "misinformation" in reports about U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel. CBC corrected one error. There was no violation of policy in the second report. NOTE: The word "caught" ...

Make a Complaint »

To make a public complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman, you can use our standard form by clicking here, or you can write to us at the address below.

Make a complaint now »

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Esther Enkin
P.O. Box Station A
Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6

Telephone & Fax:

Phone: (416) 205-2978
Fax: (416) 205-2825