Process

1. General procedures for handling disclosures

  • Employees may make disclosures to
    • their supervisor
    • their designated officer (DO) or
    • to the Ombudsman.
  • Under section 7 of the Act, disclosures must be received in writing and must include the following information, if known:
    • a description of the wrongdoing
    • the name of the person(s) alleged to have committed the wrongdoing or about to commit the wrongdoing
    • the date of the wrongdoing
    • whether the wrongdoing has already been disclosed and any response received
  • A standard Disclosure Form has been developed and can be found here.
  • Disclosure files must be treated as strictly confidential, maintained in a secure manner and location, and protected from unauthorized access.
  • Care must be taken at all times to protect the identity of the disclosing employee, any witnesses, and the alleged wrongdoer.
  • The person to whom the disclosure is made must inform the disclosing employee that information related to the disclosure, including his or her identity, will be protected and kept confidential to the fullest extent possible, subject to any other Act and to the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice and that the disclosing employee also has a responsibility to protect information related to the disclosure, including protecting the identity of persons involved in the disclosure process.

2. Procedures for the receipt of a disclosure when the disclosure is made to a supervisor

  • The supervisor must advise the disclosing employee that handling of the disclosure will be undertaken by or under the direction of the DO.
  • The supervisor must contact the DO regarding the disclosure as soon as possible.

3. Procedures for the receipt and review of a disclosure by the DO

  • Upon receipt of the disclosure either directly or through the supervisor, the DO must review the disclosure to ensure that:
    • the nature of the disclosure relates to a matter within the department; and,
    • handling the disclosure does not represent a conflict for the department or the DO. (e.g the disclosure involves the Deputy)
  • If the disclosure pertains to a matter involving another government body, the DO shall refer the disclosure to the DO of the relevant government body.
  • If the disclosure represents a conflict for the DO or the department, the DO must refer the disclosure to the Ombudsman.
  • Prior to referring the disclosure to another DO or to the Ombudsman, the DO must provide notice of the referral to the disclosing employee.
  • Unless the disclosure involves the Deputy Minister, upon receipt of a disclosure, the DO must notify the Deputy Minister that a disclosure has been received, and provide information to the Deputy Minister regarding the nature of the alleged wrongdoing. The DO must ensure that only as much information is provided as is necessary to convey the nature of the disclosure.
  • The DO must assess the disclosure to determine if:
    • the disclosure was made in good faith
    • the disclosure falls within the categories of wrongdoing covered by the Act
  • Assessment must be completed within 20 days of disclosure.
  • Disclosures that don’t meet the above criteria do not require further action under the Act.
  • If in the DO’s opinion an investigation is not warranted, the reason for this determination, and any action(s) that has been taken or that will be taken, is to be documented in writing in the file. The disclosing employee and the Deputy Minister should be advised promptly that review of the disclosure has been concluded.
  • If in the DO’s opinion an investigation is warranted with regard to the disclosure, the DO must promptly advise the Deputy Minister and the disclosing employee that an investigation will be undertaken.

4. Procedures for investigation of the disclosure by the DO

  • Investigations must be managed by the DO, with appropriate assistance, depending on the nature of the disclosure. This could involve the use of an outside investigator or in the case of an alleged criminal activity, the police.
  • Investigations must be completed within 60 days unless agreement is reached between the disclosing employee and the designated officer to extend. They must be conducted in a confidential manner, with due regard for the protection of the identity of persons involved in the disclosure process. All persons involved with the investigation must be cautioned not to disclose any information related to the investigation or the disclosure except as required by law or in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice.
  • If the investigation results in a finding of wrongdoing, the investigation report must include any recommendations or corrective actions to be taken in relation to the wrongdoing, or the reasons why no corrective action is being taken.
  • A report of the findings of the investigation must be prepared within 30 days of the completion of the investigation. The Deputy Minister, the disclosing employee, and the alleged wrongdoer must be advised of the outcome.
  • The DO may request that the Deputy notify the DO of the steps that have been taken to give effect to any recommendations for corrective action.

5. Procedures for Handling Disclosures Received by the Ombudsman

  • If a disclosure is made to the Ombudsman, and the Ombudsman decides that an investigation is warranted under the Act, the Ombudsman will give notice to the Deputy Head, the disclosing employee and the alleged wrongdoer, if known.
  • Following the investigation, the Ombudsman will prepare a report of findings and any recommendations. This report is given to the Deputy Head or the Minister if the investigation involves the Deputy Head.
  • A statement of outcomes in provided to the employee.
  • The Ombudsman may request that the government body provide information on steps they are taking to enact the recommendations.

6. Annual reporting of Disclosures

  • The DO must ensure there is a mechanism in place to track disclosures of alleged wrongdoing that have been made to a supervisor or the DO for annual reporting purposes. The report must be posted on the department website. (A standard reporting template has been developed.)
  • Under subsection 18 of the Act, the department’s Annual Report must include the following information:
    • the number of disclosures received
    • the number of investigations commenced as a result of a disclosure
    • any findings of wrongdoing
    • any recommendations or corrective actions taken, or the reasons why no corrective action was taken
  • Under Section 28 of the Act, the Ombudsman must prepare an annual report and that report is to be tabled in the House of Assembly.