A new law protecting B.C. whistleblowers goes into effect Dec. 1.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) outlines new protections for current and former B.C. government employees who come forward to report wrongdoing in their workplace.
Employees can now report concerns internally to a designated officer or to the B.C. ombudsperson, and will be protected from demotion, termination or reprisal. Whistleblowers can also raise their concerns anonymously if they wish.
“This legislation protects whistleblowers if they speak up and requires that any investigation into allegations of serious wrongdoing will be administratively fair,” said Attorney General David Eby. “It supports high standards of integrity and accountability in our public service, which British Columbians expect and deserve.”
The act also ensures those being investigated are treated fairly, and that ministries and the office of the ombudsperson are transparent in reporting the number of reports received each year and sharing the results of any investigations that have occurred.
“Having a legal framework that allows public employees to speak up about wrongdoing helps ensure accountability, transparency and integrity in government,” said ombudsperson Jay Chalke. “Whistle-blowing allegations involve serious matters. I am confident that with the expertise of the investigative staff and policies that are in place at my office, both disclosers and those who have allegations made against them, will be treated fairly.”
The new law will also give the ombudsperson the power to investigate if an employee believes they have suffered reprisals after reporting a concern to their employer.
The PIDA was passed last year, in response to an earlier 2017 report Misfire: The 2012 Ministry of Health Employment Terminations and Related Matters. That report made 41 recommendations as the result of an investigation into a 2012 wrongful firing of several Health Ministry employees. After the firing, politicians implied an RCMP prove was a possibility, though police never looked into the matter.
One of the wrongly fired employees was Roderick MacIsaac, who later killed himself. The province has since reached settlements with the employees or their families.