Getting Advice About the Public Interest Disclosure Act
The below information applies to employees in government ministries as outlined in HR Policy 24.
Employees from other public sector organizations, including agencies, boards and commissions should direct PIDA inquiries to their specific organization.
Deciding if you should make a disclosure, or whether the situation meets the requirements of a serious wrongdoing under PIDA, may be difficult. Employees of BC Public Service ministries can request and receive advice from the people below:
- Their union representative or employee association representative (as applicable)
- Their supervisor
- The Agency designated officer (including the BC Public Service Agency Employee Relations Team)
- Their ministry ethics advisor
- A lawyer (privately retained)
- The BC Ombudsperson
Employees who seek advice from any of these individuals will be protected from reprisal under the legislation.
You may seek advice about PIDA at any point during the investigative process.
Getting Advice: What to Expect
When you approach one of these individuals for advice about PIDA, including about a potential PIDA disclosure or a potential complaint about a reprisal, the person will:
- Provide you with information about your options to report wrongdoing
- Give information about the disclosure process or reprisal complaint process
- Provide you with a confidential and safe place to share your concerns
Some other important points to note are:
- When you seek advice, no one can tell or force you to make a PIDA disclosure because this decision is entirely up to you.
- Your concerns will be kept as confidential as possible, unless there is imminent risk or danger to a person or persons or the environment
- Maintaining confidentiality is everyone's responsibility. This includes the person making a disclosure or a complaint about a reprisal. Confidentiality protects the integrity of the investigation process and protects the discloser and participants against reprisal
- Although these people can give you advice about the process, they cannot tell you whether your concern will meet the threshold of serious wrongdoing set out in PIDA. The Agency designated officer or the B.C. ombudsperson will determine this after you make your disclosure.
- Government employees are required by legislation and policy to report specific types of wrongdoing. For example, public servants have duties to report under legislation like the Worker’s Compensation Act and the Financial Administration Act (FAA) (which requires unauthorized spending to be reported). Under the Standards of Conduct, employees are required to report breaches of the Standards of Conduct. Some employees may also have information they must report under legislation like the Child and Family Community Services Act (CFCSA); the CFCSA requires a person who has reason to believe that a child needs protection to promptly report that as outlined in the Act. In cases like these, if you share information with a supervisor, your ministry ethics advisor or the Agency designated officer, what you share may put that person under the obligation to report what you've told them. PIDA still requires that your identity be protected to the fullest extent possible even if you are only seeking advice about making a disclosure or a complaint about a reprisal. This requirement stays the same if another person reports under their mandatory reporting requirement.