Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act?
The Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA) went into effect on June 15, 2015. Its purpose is to promote public confidence by enabling employees of public entities to disclose wrongdoings that occur in public entities and protecting these employees from reprisal. The PIDWA also establishes the office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner.
- Who is the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner?
The Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner (PIDC) is an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly who is authorized to investigate disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints about reprisals. The PIDC also has authority to review and comment on procedures established by public entities to manage disclosures of wrongdoing and provide advice to employees about making a wrongdoing disclosure and about the PIDWA generally.
In Yukon, the PIDC is also the Ombudsman and the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The staff in the PIDC’s office work to fulfill the mandates of the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA), the Ombudsman Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP Act) and once proclaimed the Health Information Privacy and Management Act.
- How do I contact the Office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner?
You can contact the PIDC as follows.
Office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
Suite 201, 211 Hawkins Street Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 1X3
Phone: 867-667-8468 or toll free at 1-800-661-0408 ext.8468
- What is a wrongdoing?
A “wrongdoing” is defined in the PIDWA as:
- (a) a contravention of an Act, a regulation made under an Act, an Act of Parliament, or a regulation made under an Act of Parliament;
- (b) an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger
- (i) 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
- (ii) to the environment;
- (c) gross mismanagement of public funds or a public asset;
- (d) knowingly directing or counselling an individual to commit a wrongdoing described in any of paragraphs (a) to (c).
- What happens after the PIDC issues an investigation report?
If a settlement does not occur, the PIDC will finalize her investigation and issue an investigation report. If report recommendations are made, PIDC can require the public entity to notify her within a specified time of the steps taken or proposed to be taken to implement the recommendations. The PIDC could also recommend a time period for implementation of recommendations.
- What will happen to an employee who is found to have committed a wrongdoing?
The PIDWA indicates that an employee who commits a wrongdoing is subject to disciplinary action including termination. In addition, the PIDC has authority to make finding and recommendations about the wrongdoing.
- What is a reprisal?
A reprisal is defined as discipline, demotion, termination, adversely affecting employment or working conditions, or threats to do these things to an employee who in good faith made a disclosure, sought advice about making a disclosure, cooperated in a disclosure investigation, or declined to participate in a wrongdoing.
It is an offence to take a reprisal against an employee and a person found guilty of this offence is subject to a fine up to $10,000.
- What happens after the PIDC issues a report?
Within 30 days after receiving the report from the PIDC, the public entity must notify the PIDC about whether it will accept the recommendations and take the actions required to implement the recommendations. If the public entity fails to notify the PIDC within 30 days, the public entity is deemed to have decided not to follow the recommendations.
- What will happen to the employer who committs a reprisal?
If the PIDC finds that a reprisal occurred, she can make any recommendations she deems appropriate to remedy the reprisal. A person who commits a reprisal may be found guilty of an offence under the PIDWA and be required to pay a fine up to $10,000.
- What if the public entity refuses to follow the recommendations?
If a public entity decides or is deemed not to follow a recommendation made to remedy a reprisal found to have occurred by the PIDC, the PIDC or a public entity may refer any matter in dispute associated with the reprisal complaint to an arbitrator who has the power to make an award that is binding on the public entity, the PIDC, and you.
If an arbitrator finds a reprisal occurred against you, depending on the reprisal taken, the arbitrator has the very broad powers to:
- permit an employee to return to his or her duties;
- reinstate an employee or pay damages if the trust relationship between the employee and public entity cannot be restored;
- compensate an employee for lost wages or expenses incurred or other financial losses resulting from the reprisal;
- cease any reprisal activity; and
- rectify a situation resulting from reprisal; or
- do or refrain from doing anything to remedy a consequence of reprisal.
- What is the process for arbitration?
It is up to the arbitrator to determine the procedure to be used. The PIDWA requires, however, that the arbitrator provide the PIDC, you, the alleged reprisor, and the public entity the opportunity to make submissions and present evidence.
- What is the purpose of PIDWA?
The purposes of this Act are to:
(a) facilitate the disclosure and investigation 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;
(b) protect employees who make those disclosures; and
(c) promote public confidence in the administration of public entities
- Is the Discloser's identity to remain confidential?
The identity of all persons involved in a wrongdoing disclosure process must be protected to the fullest extent possible. This means that all disclosure-related information, including the identity of an employee who sought advice about making a disclosure or who made a disclosure, or the identity of a person alleged to have committed a wrongdoing, is shared only with those who require teh information in order to fulfill their responsibilities under the Act or to facilitate achievement of the Act's purposes.
- What if I have a conflict of interest with the Discloser?
If you suspect or know that you have a real or perceived conflict of interest with the employee who made a disclosure, you must immediately stop the process and advise both the employee and your chief executive to that effect and exclude yourself from any further involvement.
- What if the wrongdoing pertains to a different public entity?
If the disclosure pertains to a matter that would more appropriately be dealt with by another public entity, you may, with notice to the disclosing employee, refer the disclosure to the chief executive of the other public entity.
- Can I investigate a complaint of reprisal?
Only the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner can investigate a complaint of reprisal under PIDWA, and must do so as informally and expeditiously as possible. An employee who believes they have suffered a reprisal becuase they have in good faith (i.e., honestly, sincerely, and without malice) sought advice about making a disclosure, made a disclosure, cooperated in an investigation under PIDWA, or declined to participate in a wrongdoing, can make a complaint of reprisal to our office.
- Will I be told of the results of the investigation?
Upon completing an investigation of a complaint or reprisal or wrongdoing, the Public Interest Disclosure COmmissioner must prepare a report containing findings, reasons for findings, and any recommendations about the complaint. A copy of this report will be provided to the chief executive of the affected public entity, and if applicable, to any other individuals who were also initially notified of the complaint.
- Is making a disclosure considered a breach of privacy?
PIDWA requires an employee making a disclosure that involves personal or confidential information to take reasonable precautions to ensure that no more information is disclosed than is necessary to make the disclosure.