Act protects employees who participate in PIDA investigations from reprisals
British Columbia’s Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) — which protects current and past government employees who bring forward concerns about serious wrongdoing or who come under investigation — has come into force.
PIDA allows whistleblowers to disclose concerns confidentially about issues that affect the public interest to designated officers within their organizations or to the Office of the Ombudsperson, an oversight body independent of government.
The act protects these employees from reprisals, such as demotion or termination, and ensures those under investigation are treated fairly. It also fosters transparency by requiring ministries and the ombudsperson to report the number of disclosures they receive and the results of any investigations they undertake each year, says the government.
“This legislation protects whistleblowers if they speak up and requires that any investigation into allegations of serious wrongdoing will be administratively fair,” says David Eby, attorney general. “It supports high standards of integrity and accountability in our public service, which British Columbians expect and deserve.”
B.C. passed PIDA in May 2018 in response to the ombudsperson’s 2017 report Misfire: The 2012 Ministry of Health Employment Terminations and Related Matters. The report made 41 recommendations aimed at preventing the recurrence of a similar situation in the public service, including a recommendation that government introduce whistleblower legislation. The government accepted all the recommendations in the ombudsperson’s report.
The government also plans to extend coverage of PIDA to other public sector organizations over the next five years, such as schools, universities, Crown corporations and health authorities, says the Office of the Attorney General.