Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act

Overview

The Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (SY 2014, c. 19) protects disclosures of wrongdoings made to a supervisor, a designated officer, or the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner. Public servants who sought advice prior to a disclosure or collaborated in an investigation are protected from reprisals under the Act. The Act also protects public servants from reprisals for refusing to take part in a wrongdoing.

What kind of disclosure is protected?

If an employee reasonably believes that they have information that could show that a wrongdoing has been committed or is about to be committed, the employee may make a disclosure to:

  • a supervisor;
  • the designated officer, if one exists, for the public entity where the employee is employed; or
  • the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner (PIDC).

Under this Act, wrongdoings s. 3 are defined as: 

  • a contravention of an Act, a regulation made under an Act, an Act of Parliament, or a regulation made under an Act of Parliament;
  • an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger
    • to the life, health or safety of individuals, other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of the duties or functions of an employee, or
    • to the environment;
  • gross mismanagement of public funds or a public asset; or
  • knowingly directing or counselling an individual to commit a wrongdoing described above.

If an employee reasonably believes that a matter constitutes an imminent risk of a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of individuals, or to the environment, such that there is insufficient time to make a disclosure as mentioned above, the employee may make a disclosure to the public:

  •  if the employee has first made the disclosure to an appropriate law enforcement agency; and
  • subject to any direction that the law enforcement agency considers necessary in the public interest.

Immediately after the disclosure is made, the employee must also make a disclosure about the matter to a supervisor or the designated officer s.13.

An employee may make a disclosure under this Act even if a provision in another Act or a regulation made under an Act prohibits or restricts disclosure of the information s. 14

Nothing in this Act authorizes the disclosure by an employee of:

  • information described in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Cabinet confidence) except in circumstances mentioned in that Act;
  • information that is protected by solicitor-client privilege; or
  • in the case of a disclosure to the public,  information that is subject to any restriction created by an Act, a regulation made under an Act, an Act of Parliament or a regulation made under an Act of Parliament s. 15.

Who is eligible for protection?

This Act protects employees who make disclosures that are of significant and serious matters in or relating to public entities, that an employee believes may be unlawful, dangerous to the public or injurious to the public interest s. 1.

Under this Act, employee s. 2 means an individual employed by, or an individual who has suffered a reprisal and has been terminated by, a public entity and includes a contract employee.

How are whistleblowers protected?

A person must not take a reprisal against an employee or direct that one be taken against an employee because the employee has, in good faith,

  • sought advice about making a disclosure from a supervisor, a designated officer or the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner;
  • made a disclosure;
  • co-operated in an investigation under this Act; or
  • declined to participate in a wrongdoing s. 25.

An employee who alleges a reprisal has been taken against them may file a written complaint of reprisal with the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner.

The Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner is not authorized to investigate a complaint of reprisal and must cease an investigation into a complaint of reprisal if the employee who made the complaint has commenced or commences a procedure under another Act, an Act of Parliament, a collective agreement, an employment agreement or policy of the affected public entity in respect of the complaint of reprisal s. 29.

If a person commits any of the following, they have committed an offence and are liable on summary conviction to a fine of no more than $10,000:

  • taking a reprisal or directing a reprisal to be taken against an employee s. 25; 
  • making a false or misleading statement orally or in writing s. 48
  •  wilfully obstructing in the performance or function under this Act s. 49 or 
  • destroying, mutilating or altering the document or thing, falsifying the document or making a false document, concealing the document or thing, or directing, in any manner, a person to do anything mentioned above s. 50.

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.

A disclosure must be in writing and must include the following information, if known:

  • a description of the wrongdoing;
  • the name of the individual or individuals alleged
    • to have committed the wrongdoing, or
    • to be about to commit the wrongdoing;
  • the date of the wrongdoing;
  • whether the wrongdoing has been disclosed by the employee to someone else and whether a response has been received; and
  • any other information prescribed in the regulations s. 11.

The person the disclosure was provided to  may request any additional information reasonably required in order to investigate the matters set out in the disclosure s. 11.

If a disclosure involves personal information or confidential information, an employee must take reasonable precautions to ensure that no more information is disclosed than is necessary to make the disclosure s. 15.

An employee who is considering making a disclosure may request advice from a supervisor, the designated officer (if there is one for that public entity), or the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner s. 8.

A prosecution under this Act may not be commenced later than two years after the day the alleged offence was committed s. 52.

A disclosure must be in writing using the Disclosure of Wrongdoing Form developed by the Office of the PIDC. Contact the office to get a copy of this form. 

Once the form is completed, it can be submitted by fax, mailed, or delivered in person.

Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
211 Hawkins Street, Suite 201
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 1X3
Phone: 867-667-8468 or 1-800-611-0408 (ext. 8468)
Fax: 867-667-8469
Email: info@ombudsman.yk.ca