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BC Ombudsperson able to investigate whistleblower allegations under new law

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Victoria – As of today, BC has a new law that gives current and former provincial government whistleblowers a way to bring forward concerns about wrongdoing in the workplace. The Public Interest Disclosure Act gives the Ombudsperson a new statutory mandate to conduct whistleblowing investigations if employees do not wish to report those concerns internally to their employer.

“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. “Whistleblowing allegations involve serious matters,” said Chalke. “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.”

In addition to investigating disclosures of wrongdoing, the Ombudsperson has the sole mandate under the new law to investigate if an employee believes they have been reprised against for bringing a concern forward.

“We at the Ombudsperson’s office will be applying 40 years of expertise we have in complaint handling and conducting rigorous and impartial investigations to our new mandate. We will of course continue to receive complaints from the public who feel they have been treated unfairly by a public sector organization as we always have, but now in addition any current or provincial government employee who either wants to report wrongdoing or reprisal in the workplace can turn to us. If they are unsure whether to make a report and want advice they can contact our office.”

Information about BC’s new Public Interest Disclosure Act and steps on how to get advice or make a disclosure to the Ombudsperson’s office can be found here.