Personal Information Protection Act

Overview

The Personal Information Protection Act (SBC 2003, c. 63) protects employees who have disclosed a contravention to the Act to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Any reprisal under the Act is an offence and is subject to a fine.

What kind of disclosure is protected?

The Act protects any employee of an organization who, while acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has disclosed information to the Information and Privacy Commissioner regarding a past or potential contravention of this Act s.54(a)

The Act does not define “wrongdoing” or “protected disclosure.”

Who is eligible for protection?

The Act protects public and private sector employees, including a volunteer, or an organization who has disclosed information regarding wrongdoing to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. 

Under the Act, an organization s.1 is defined as including a person, an unincorporated association, a trade union, a trust and a not for profit organization.

An organization does not include an individual acting in a personal or domestic capacity or acting as an employee, a public body, the Provincial Court, the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal, the Nisga'a Government, as defined in the Nisga'a Final Agreement, or a private trust for the benefit of one or more designated individuals who are friends or members of the family of the settlor s.1.

How are whistleblowers protected?

The Act prohibits any person from taking any kind of reprisal against an employee who has made a disclosure regarding a contravention of this Act to the Information and Privacy Commissioner s.54(a). The Act also protects employees from any reprisal if they have followed the law as prescribed by the Act s.54(b), or have refused to do anything in contravention of the Act s.54(c).

Under the Act, a reprisal s.54 includes disciplinary measures, demotion, suspension, termination of employment or any measures that adversely affect the employment or working conditions of the employee. 

Any individual who knowingly takes any kind of reprisal against an employee for making a protected disclosure is guilty of an offence s.56(1)(e) and is liable to a fine up to $10 000 s.56(2)(a)

Any organization who knowingly takes any kind of reprisal against an employee for making a protected disclosure is guilty of an offence s.56(1)(e) and is liable to a fine up to $100 000 s.56(2)(b).

A person who notifies the Commissioner of a contravention or possible contravention of this Act, may request the Commissioner to keep their identity confidential s.55.

How should disclosures be made?

Be careful! Despite presenting some challenges for follow ups, one of the best protections for whistleblowers is their anonymity. Be cautious when providing any information through electronic means, especially emails! Read the security tips section.

In order to make a complaint to the Commissioner’s Office, an employee must first try to resolve their complaint directly with the public body or organization.

The Commissioner’s Office will not accept complaints until an employee has waited at least 30 business days for a response from the public body or organization. 

In order to submit a complaint, employees may fill and submit the following form by email, fax or by mailing it to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner: 

Fax: (250) 387-1696

Email: info@oipc.bc.ca

Mail:
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Colombia
P.O. Box 9038, Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9A4 

If the complaint is accepted, the complainant’s name and contact information, as well as a copy of the complaint, will be shared with the public body or organization who is the subject of the complaint. 

For more information on the process to submit a privacy disclosure to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, follow this link: https://www.oipc.bc.ca/for-the-public/how-do-i-make-a-complaint/.