The Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA) was proclaimed in effect on December 20, 2011. The Act and the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Regulations give employees of government bodies set out in Schedule A of the Act (see Appendix A below) a clear process for disclosing concerns about wrongdoing in government. They also provide protection from reprisal for employees who bring forth a disclosure in good faith.
The Act was amended by private members’ bill on November 10, 2016. The changes to the Act broadened its scope to include school boards, crown corporations, and agencies, boards, and commissions of government.
The Act is not intended to deal with all matters and concerns that employees may have. This Act is the avenue for dealing with specific wrongdoings as defined in the Act. Other legislation such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Human Rights Act, corporate human resources policies and the grievance process for union employees provide additional avenues of redress for government employees that may be more appropriate depending on the circumstances.
PIDWA applies to all employees and former employees of government departments and other government bodies, agencies, boards and commissions, including school boards as set out in the Act. (See Appendix A and B below)
The following are defined as wrongdoings under PIDWA:
A “disclosure” means a formal complaint in writing of a wrongdoing or potential wrongdoing made in good faith by an employee to their supervisor, their designated officer or the Ombudsman.
Yes, disclosures must be made within 12 months of becoming aware of the potential wrongdoing.
You may seek advice from your designated officer or the Ombudsman.
If you think a wrongdoing has been or is about to be committed, you may make a complaint in writing to your supervisor, your designated officer or the ombudsman that sets out the following information, if known:
A standard Disclosure Form has been developed and can be found here.
If a disclosure is made to your supervisor, he/she must forward the disclosure to designated officer.
The designated officer will review the disclosure to determine:
If the disclosure is made to, or referred to the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman will assess the disclosure in order to decide whether to investigate or not. Reasons for not investigating are set out in the Act.
If the Ombudsman undertakes an investigation of the disclosure, he/she will prepare a report and any recommendations following the investigation. You will be advised of the outcome.
A “reprisal” could be any of the following actions that you believe was taken against you because you asked for advice about a disclosure, made a disclosure or cooperated in an investigation of a disclosure:
If you believe that a reprisal has been taken against you, you may file a complaint in writing to the Chair of the Labor Board providing:
In addition, the taking of a reprisal is an offence under the Act. Anyone found guilty of taking such action is liable on summary conviction for a fine of up to $10,000.
If you make a disclosure you must do so in good faith, not maliciously or for an ulterior motive. You must maintain confidentiality as much as possible. You must co-operate with any investigations undertaken in relation to disclosures.
You cannot disclose information that is related to Cabinet or Cabinet committee work or information that is protected by solicitor-client privilege. Also, if the disclosure involves personal or confidential information, you must take all reasonable precautions to ensure no more information is disclosed than is necessary to make the disclosure.
If you have reason to believe that a wrongdoing presents “an imminent risk of substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of persons or to the environment” and there is not enough time to make a disclosure to your designated officer or the Ombudsman, you may make a disclosure to the public.
Before making this public disclosure you must first make the disclosure to the police or the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health if the matter is health-related and you must follow any directions given by them.
Your identity and the identity of others involved in the disclosure process, as well as the confidentiality of any information collected, will be protected to the fullest extent possible. However, investigations of a disclosure of wrongdoing must also follow the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice. This means for example that in the case of an alleged wrongdoer, they have the right to know the information of the case against them and be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Everyone involved in any way in a disclosure is responsible for maintaining confidentiality.
Other documents, links to PIDWA and the regulations can be found on the main Public Service Commission Disclosure of Wrongdoing page.