Public Interest Disclosure Act Procedure
Effective date: September 1, 2011
Application: All WCB Employees
Policy subject: General
To establish the process to manage disclosures by Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) staff of wrongdoings in accordance with The Public Interest Disclosure Act.
The Act, for the purposes of this procedure, means The Public Interest Disclosure Act, Chapter P-38.1 of The Statute of Saskatchewan, 2011, as amended by the Statutes of Saskatchewan, 2014, c.E-13.1, and 2015, c.16.
Commissioner, means the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner appointed by an order of the Legislative Assembly, and includes any acting commissioner appointed pursuant to Part V of the Act.
Disclosure, for the purpose of this procedure, means a disclosure of wrongdoing made in good faith by an employee of the WCB.
Designated Officer means, at WCB, the Chair of WCB and, in the event of their absence or inability to act in this capacity, the CEO of WCB.
Employee, for the purpose of this procedure, means a person who is an employee of WCB at the time of making of the disclosure.
Government Institution includes the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Reprisal means any of the following measures taken against an employee because that employee has, in good faith, sought advice about making a disclosure, made a disclosure, cooperated in an investigation pursuant to this Act or declined to participate in suspected wrongdoing:
- A dismissal, lay off, suspension, demotion or transfer, discontinuation or elimination of a job, change of a job location, reduction of wages, changes in hours of work or reprimand;
- Any measure other than the ones mentioned above that adversely affect the public servant’s employment or working conditions;
- A threat to take any of the measures mentioned above.
- A contravention of a Federal or Provincial Act or Regulation.
- An act or omission that creates:
- A substantial and specific danger to life, health or safety of persons, not including a danger inherent to the employee’s job; or
- A substantial and specific danger to the environment;
- Gross mismanagement of public funds or a public asset, or
- Knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit any of the above.
- The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA), which came into effect September 1, 2011, provides a process for employees of government institutions to make disclosure of wrongdoing with protection against reprisal for making such disclosure if made in accordance with PIDA.
- As required by Section 6 (1) and (2) of PIDA, the WCB has adopted the following procedure to manage disclosure of its employees in accordance with the legislation.
- An employee who is considering making a disclosure may seek advice from the Designated Officer or the Commissioner.
- If an employee reasonably believes that he or she has information that could show that a wrongdoing has been committed or is about to be committed, or that could show that the employee has been asked to commit a wrongdoing, the employee may make disclosure to:
- The Designated Officer for WCB; or
- The Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner (the Commissioner). A disclosure can be made to the Commissioner at: Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner, 150 – 2401 Saskatchewan Drive, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4P 4H8. Phone (306)787-6211. Toll free 1-800-667-7180. Fax (306)787-9090. www.saskpidc.ca.
- Disclosures must be received by the designated officer or the Commissioner in writing, and should be on the prescribed form. A copy of the prescribed form is attached as Appendix A to this procedure. The form should be placed in a sealed envelope clearly marked “Personal and Confidential to be opened by the Chair only” to ensure confidentiality. The form must include the following information:
- A description of the wrongdoing.
- The name of the person(s) alleged to have committed the wrongdoing or be about to commit the wrongdoing.
- The date of the alleged wrongdoing.
Management of Disclosures
- Upon receipt by the designated officer, each disclosure must be date-stamped.
- Each disclosure received by the designated officer, and all records of advice sought from the designated officer by any employees regarding a potential disclosure, must be (1) maintained in a separate, secured file; (2) treated as strictly confidential; (3) protected from unauthorized access.
- All written information obtained as a result of a disclosure or its review or investigation, must be included in the disclosure file. All pertinent information obtained verbally must be documented, in writing, dated and placed in the disclosure file. When the designated officer creates a paper or electronic record to track disclosures or requests for advice under PIDA, those documents and records shall be handled in such a manner as to ensure confidentiality and the protection of identities as required by PIDA. When the designated officer creates a paper or electronic record to track disclosures or requests for advice under PIDA, those documents and records shall be handled in such a manner as to ensure confidentiality and protection of identities as required by PIDA.
- The identity of all persons involved in the disclosure process including employees who seek advice about a possible disclosure, employees who make disclosures, witnesses and those alleged to have committed a wrongdoing, must be protected. Any person who obtains information through the performance of their duties under PIDA shall not disclose it, except as required by law.
- If the designated officer determines that an investigation of the alleged wrongdoing is required, it shall be conducted in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice. These principles include the requirements that the alleged wrong-doer: (1) has a right to be informed of the nature of the disclosure; (2) must be given an opportunity to make oral or written submissions to the designated officer with respect to the disclosure; (3) should be provided with all information that will be considered by the designated officer and given an opportunity to answer the case against him or her; (4) should be told of the reason for the decision.
- The designated officer must act in a manner that is not biased, arbitrary or discriminatory, and that is fair and open-minded.
- In responding to a request for advice from an employee respecting a possible disclosure or with respect to the receipt, review or investigation of a disclosure, the designated officer may: (1) seek legal advice from its legal counsel; (2) seek procedural advice from the Commission; (3) utilize such specialized services within WCB as the designated officer determines necessary, or (4) refer the matter to the appropriate external agency, to conduct an investigation.
- The designated officer must remove himself or herself from the process surrounding the disclosure and/or its investigation in the event of a conflict of interest.
- Once a disclosure has been filed with the designated officer, it cannot be withdrawn.
Procedure for Receiving Disclosures
- Within 20 calendar days of receipt by the designated officer of a disclosure, the designated officer shall arrange to discuss the disclosure privately with the disclosing employee.
- The designated officer must determine and comply with the wishes of the disclosing employee respecting the manner of communication to be used with him or her, by the designated officer, regarding the disclosure matter.
- The designated officer must advise the disclosing employee that: (1) information related to the disclosure, including their identity, will be protected and kept confidential to the fullest extent possible within the law, and in keeping with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice. (For example, the disclosing employee’s name will not be disclosed unless it is a necessary fact in resolving the disclosure matter. But the disclosing employee should be aware that it may be possible to identify him or her from the facts contained in the disclosure); (2) the disclosing employee also has an obligation to protect information related to the disclosure, including the identity of all persons involved in the disclosure process.
- The designated officer shall assess the disclosure to determine if the matter, if proven to be true, would be a wrongdoing within the meaning of PIDA, and to determine what action should be taken. That assessment should be completed, where reasonably possible, within 40 days of receipt of the disclosure by the designated officer.
- In conducting the assessment of the disclosure, the designated officer should consider the following criteria: (1) whether the designated officer is in a conflict of interest and, if so, whether the matter should be referred to the Commissioner; (2) whether the nature of the disclosure pertains to a matter within WCB and, if not, whether the matter should be referred to the designated officer of a different government institution, where it would be more appropriately dealt with; (3) whether the disclosure is a wrongdoing as defined by PIDA; (4) whether the disclosure has been made in good faith and whether the disclosing employee has a reasonable belief that the information disclosed could show a wrongdoing has been or is about to be committed.
- In the event that the designated officer determines that the disclosure should be referred to the Commissioner or a different government institution, the designated officer must advise the disclosing employee in the manner agreed to in accordance with paragraph 13 of this procedure.
- If the designated officer determines that no further action is required with respect to the disclosure, the disclosing employee shall be notified and the file closed.
- If the designated officer determines that the criteria set out in paragraph 16 have been met and action is required, the designated officer shall advise the disclosing employee of the action to be taken, including whether or not an investigation will be required and will provide the alleged wrong-doer with notice of the disclosure and only such relevant information as is consistent with the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice.
- Any investigation that is to be undertaken with respect to the disclosure shall be managed by the designated officer, although he or she may utilize the appropriate expertise to assist with the process, or may refer the matter to the police during or after the investigation, if the designated officer determines such action to be required.
- If other employees are invited to participate in the investigation, the designated officer shall advise them of their right to have a person attend with them to provide support (e.g. union representation for in-scope employees) but that support person shall not be entitled to contribute to the investigation or speak on the employee’s behalf.
- Within 30 calendar days of completion of an investigation, the designated officer will prepare and deliver a written report with respect to their findings and any recommendations or corrective action he or she considers appropriate respecting the disclosure and wrongdoing. The disclosing employee shall be advised that a report has been made and provided with such information as the designated officer considers appropriate.
Complaint of Reprisal
- If a WCB employee alleges that a reprisal has been taken or directed against him or her, that employee may make a written complaint to the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner respecting the matter. Such a complaint may be made in the form attached to this policy as Appendix B.
Annual Reporting of Disclosures
- The designated officer shall ensure that a process is established to track disclosures of alleged wrongdoings received by him or her, for annual reporting of disclosure in accordance with the Act.
- The PIDA annual report prepared by the designated officer shall include the following information: (1) the number of disclosures received; (2) the number of disclosures acted on and not acted on; (3) the number of investigations commenced as a result of the disclosure; and (4) if an investigation results in a finding of wrongdoing, a description of the wrongdoing and any recommendations or corrective action taken, or the reasons why no corrective action was taken. Each annual report shall be for the reporting period commencing on April 1 in one year and ending on March 31 of the following year.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA)
(1) September 1, 2016. Definitions updated in accordance with amendments to The Public Interest Disclosure Act.
(2) January 1, 2014. References updated in accordance with The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013.
ADM PRO 01/2017 Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct – Board and Committee Meetings and Communications (WCB Staff)