Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada is one of the Independent Oversight Offices created as part of the Canadian Federal Accountability Act. The Office investigates wrongdoing in the federal public sector and helps protect whistleblowers, and those who participate in investigations, from reprisal.
The Office is an independent federal organization created in 2007 under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, is led by a Commissioner who reports directly to Parliament, and has jurisdiction over most federal public sector organizations, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Crown Corporations. The Canadian Forces, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment are exempt but must establish their own internal disclosure regime.
The Act is intended to address wrongdoing that could seriously impact the public’s confidence in the integrity of the public service.
Reports of founded wrongdoing are presented before the House of Commons and the Senate in accordance with the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
Joe Friday is the current Commissioner, named on March 27, 2015.
Mario Dion, a former federal parole board chair, was named as the second Public Sector Integrity Commissioner on December 14, 2010.
Christiane Ouimet became the first Public Sector Integrity Commissioner when the post was created by the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (S.C. 2005, c. 46) on August 6, 2007. Ms. Ouimet retired effective October 18, 2010.
Disclosures of Wrongdoing (Whistleblowing)
A protected disclosure is defined in the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act as a disclosure made by a public servant of any information that he or she believes could show that a wrongdoing was committed or is about to be committed in the federal public sector, or that could show that the public servant has been asked to commit a wrongdoing.
A disclosure is protected if it is made in good faith to the public servant’s supervisor, to his/her organization’s designated Senior Officer for internal disclosure, or to the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Wrongdoing is defined as follows:
· a contravention of any Act of Parliament or of the legislature of a province or any regulations made under any such act;
· a misuse of public funds or a public asset;
· a gross mismanagement in the federal public sector;
· an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of persons, or to the environment, other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of the duties or functions of a public servant;
· a serious breach of a code of conduct established under section 5 or 6;
· knowingly directing or counseling a person to commit a wrongdoing as defined above.
If, after an investigation, the Commissioner finds that wrongdoing was committed, he/she must table a Case Report of founded wrongdoing in the House of Commons and the Senate in accordance with the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
As of October 2017, a total of 15 reports have been tabled in Parliament.
Following an investigation, launched as a result of an internal disclosure, which results in a finding of wrongdoing, the Chief Executive of the respective organization must promptly provide public access to information about the wrongdoing found and the recommendations for corrective action, if any.
Whether a disclosure is made internally or to PSIC, public sector employees are protected from reprisal by the Act.
Under the Act, “reprisal” is defined as any of the following measures taken against a public servant because the public servant has made a protected disclosure or has, in good faith, cooperated in an investigation into a disclosure or an investigation commenced under section 33:
- a disciplinary measure
- the demotion of the public servant
- the termination of employment of the public servant, including, in the case of a member of the RCMP, a discharge or dismissal
- any measure that adversely affects the employment or working conditions of the public servant
- a threat to take any measures referred to above
For it to be considered reprisal under the Act, there must be a link between the alleged reprisal actions and the making of a disclosure of wrongdoing or participating in an investigation. The Act states that disclosers must contact the Office within 60 days of knowing that they have had a reprisal committed against them. The Commissioner must make a decision whether to investigate within 15 days of the complaint being filed and when all the necessary information to complete the assessment has been received. If the investigation leads the Commissioner to believe a reprisal has occurred, he will refer the case to a tribunal composed of provincial and federal judges. The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal has the power to order an appropriate remedy for victims of reprisal.
- "Case Reports - findings of wrongdoing". Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada. Archived from the original on November 1, 2017. Retrieved Dec 13, 2017.
- "About the Commissioner". Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. Nov 4, 2015. Archived from the original on November 1, 2017. Retrieved Dec 13, 2017.
- "Tories name new integrity commissioner". CBC. CBC. Dec 14, 2010. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved Dec 13, 2017.
- "Prime Minister welcomes new Public Sector Integrity Commissioner". Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper. 3 August 2007. Archived from the original on 30 May 2014. Retrieved 13 Dec 2017.
- De Souza, Mike (21 October 2010). "Integrity commissioner quits amid investigation of her office". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 13 Dec 2017.[dead link]
- De Souza, Mike (21 October 2010). "Integrity commissioner quits amid investigation of her office". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved March 14, 2018 – via Pressreader. (Scroll through to find article)
- "Case Reports - findings of wrongdoing". Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada. Sep 25, 2017. Archived from the original on November 1, 2017. Retrieved Dec 13, 2017.