What is “wrongdoing”?
Wrongdoing is conduct that occurs in or relating to a ministry, government body or office of the legislature that is:
- a serious act or failure to act that, if proven, would be an offence under the laws of BC or Canada;
- an act or failure to act 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 an employee’s duties or functions;
- a serious misuse of public funds or public assets;
- gross or systemic mismanagement; or
- knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit wrongdoing described above.
Not all misconduct is wrongdoing under PIDA. For example, minor or isolated transgressions may not meet the seriousness threshold in the definition of wrongdoing. Furthermore, disagreements about policy or human resource disputes involving purely personal interests are unlikely to qualify as wrongdoing.
If you want to discuss your concerns or learn more about the investigation process, contact our office to speak with an investigator.
Can I get advice before I decide to report wrongdoing?
Yes. You can get advice from your supervisor, your designated officer, a lawyer, your union representative, employee association or the Ombudsperson. Under PIDA, you are protected from reprisal when asking for advice from these parties.
Who can report wrongdoing under PIDA?
An employee or former employee of a ministry or office of the legislature can report wrongdoing. Employees can report wrongdoing that has happened in the past, is currently taking place or that they believe is about to happen. An employee can report wrongdoing regardless of whether they are a permanent, temporary, casual, part-time or full-time employee.
Former employees can only report wrongdoing that they discovered, or that occurred, while they were employed.
We may ask you to substantiate that you are an employee or former employee in order to determine that you are eligible to report wrongdoing under the Act.
I am a contractor. Am I protected under PIDA?
Contractors are protected from reprisal under the Act. PIDA prohibits persons from cancelling contracts, withholding payment, or refusing to enter into future contracts because a contractor or their employees cooperated with a PIDA investigation.
The Ombudsperson can NOT investigate complaints of reprisal from contractors. Contractors who believe that they have experienced reprisal may wish to seek legal advice.
Can I report wrongdoing that happened a long time ago?
Yes. PIDA does not have any time restrictions. However, it may not be possible to investigate wrongdoing that happened a very long time ago if evidence or witnesses are no longer available or there would be no useful purpose in an investigation.
How can I report wrongdoing?
Employees can report wrongdoing:
1. to your supervisor or the Designated Officer in your workplace; OR
2. to the Office of the Ombudsperson.
Employees can choose where to report wrongdoing. Employees do not have to exhaust other options before coming to the Office of the Ombudsperson.
If you want to discuss your concerns or learn more about the Ombudsperson’s investigation process, contact our office to speak with an Ombudsperson Officer.
If you want to learn more about your ministry’s or office’s investigation process, contact the Designated Officer in your workplace.
Can I report wrongdoing to the media?
In most circumstances, PIDA does not cover reports of wrongdoing to the media. However, if an employee believes that there is an imminent, substantial and specific danger to people or the environment, and the employee has consulted with and obtained the consent of the appropriate protection official, an employee can make a public disclosure.
Protection officials are
•the provincial health officer (for a health-related matter);
•Emergency Management BC (for an environmental matter); or
•the police, for any other matter.
PIDA does not authorize employees to report wrongdoings publicly without FIRST obtaining the consent of the appropriate protection official.
Do I have to talk to my supervisor before reporting wrongdoing?
No. Employees can report wrongdoing without first raising their concerns with their supervisor or employer.
Can I report wrongdoing anonymously?
Yes, employees can report wrongdoing anonymously. We may investigate anonymous reports if there is enough information for the allegations of wrongdoing to be properly assessed.
However, we are required to determine if an anonymous report is made by an employee or former employee so we may ask the anonymous reporter to provide certain information so we can determine this.
We encourage employees who fear identifying themselves to contact our office to discuss our investigation process and the protections that the Act provides. That contact may be anonymous if you prefer.