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Whistleblowers - House of Assembly

Introduction

Public interest disclosure (a.k.a. "Whistleblowing") is covered under Part VI of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act ("the Act"). Part VI of the Act names the Citizens’ Representative as the investigator for public interest disclosures. The Citizens’ Representative’s legislative authority is contained at Sections 54-63 of the Act.

A person has the option of making a public interest disclosure to:

  • his or her supervisor;
  • the clerk of the House of Assembly;
  • a member of the audit committee, all of whom shall then refer the matter to the Citizens’ Representative for investigation; or
  • directly to the Citizens’ Representative.

The Act also directly applies to the Citizens’ Representative and his employees. In those instances the Commissioner for Legislative Standards becomes the investigator of the complaint.

Wrongdoing

The Act defines wrongdoing at Section 54(1)(e) of the Act. It states:

(e)   "wrongdoing", with respect to a member, the speaker, an officer of the House of Assembly and a person employed in the House of Assembly service and the statutory offices, means

(i) an act or omission constituting an offence under this Act,
(ii) gross mismanagement, including of public money under the stewardship of the commission, in violation or suspected violation of a code of conduct,
(iii) failure to disclose information required to be disclosed under this Act, or
(iv) knowingly directing or counseling a person to commit a wrongdoing described in subparagraphs (i) to (iii).

Reprisals

The Act defines "reprisal" at s. 54(d). It states:

(d)   "reprisal" means one or more of the following measures taken against an employee because he or she has, in good faith, sought advice about making a disclosure, made a disclosure or cooperated in an investigation under this Part:

(i) a disciplinary measure,
(ii) a demotion,
(iii) termination of employment,
(iv) a measure that adversely affects his or her employment or working conditions, or
(v) a threat to take a measure referred to in subparagraphs (i) to (iv)...
 
Complaints about reprisals are filed with the Labour Relations Board.

Citizens' Representative Role

Investigations are covered under Section 58 of the Act:

58.    
  (1) The investigator shall carry out investigations of matters related to allegations in a disclosure made under this Part.
  (2) Upon receipt of a referral the investigator shall, within 5 days, acknowledge to the person making the disclosure that the referral has been received.
  (3) The investigation of an allegation made in a disclosure shall be conducted as informally and expeditiously as possible.
  (4) The investigator shall ensure that the right to procedural fairness of all persons involved in an investigation is respected, including a person making a disclosure, witnesses and a person alleged to be responsible for wrongdoings.
  (5) An investigator is not required to investigate a disclosure and may cease an investigation where he or she is of the opinion that

(a) the disclosure reveals allegations that are frivolous or vexatious or the disclosure has not been made in good faith;
(b) the disclosure does not provide adequate particulars about the alleged wrongdoing as required under subsection 55(2); and
(c) there is another valid reason for not investigating the disclosure.

  (6) Where, during an investigation, the investigator has reason to believe that another wrongdoing has been committed, he or she may investigate that wrongdoing in accordance with this Part.
  (7) Upon completing an investigation, an investigator shall report, in writing, to the clerk and the speaker on his or her findings and recommendations about the disclosure and the wrongdoing.
  (8) Where the matter being investigated involves the clerk, the investigator shall give a copy of the report to the speaker.
  (9) Where the matter being investigated involves the speaker, the investigator shall give a copy of the report to the chairperson of the audit committee.
  (10) The speaker, or the chairperson of the audit committee shall, if the report recommends corrective action,

(a) refer the report to the auditor general, the Attorney General, the Minister of Finance or other appropriate official to take appropriate action;
or
(b) refer the report to the commission.

Contact the Office of the Citizens’ Representative for more information.

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