The Disclosure of Wrongdoing Process

The Office of the Integrity Commissioner receives complaints of wrongdoing from current and former members of the Ontario public service. We recognize that it takes courage to make a disclosure, and do our best to ensure that the process is fair, informal and prompt.

The OIC is independent of government and is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

What is the process?

The disclosure of wrongdoing framework is set out in the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (the “Act”). Under this law, current and former public servants can disclose alleged wrongdoing so that they can be properly addressed. The Act also contains provisions to protect public servants who make disclosures or who participate as witnesses in investigations from reprisal.

Public servants can disclose internally to their ethics executive or they can make a disclosure to the Integrity Commissioner. Public servants should disclose to the Integrity Commissioner if they do not believe it is appropriate to make the disclosure to their ethics executive. Public servants can contact the OIC to find out who their ethics executive is and to talk about the process.

If a public servant decides to make a disclosure to the OIC how does it work?

Disclosers will be asked to fill out a disclosure of wrongdoing form, which is available on the website of the OIC. The form will be carefully reviewed by the OIC to ensure that the allegations fall within the authority of the Integrity Commissioner as set out by the Act. Specifically, the OIC will confirm that the discloser is a public servant and that the allegations are in the nature of wrongdoing, as defined in the Act.

If the disclosure falls within the Commissioner’s authority, the matter is referred by the Commissioner to an appropriate senior official within the Ontario government. The senior official is directed to cause an investigation. This might be a deputy minister or the chair of a public body. The senior official is given 30 days to complete the investigation, prepare and submit a report to the Commissioner. (Extensions are granted in some cases.)

After receiving the report, the Commissioner completes a critical review of the findings. The Commissioner can make recommendations, request more information, or conclude that the report addresses the alleged wrongdoing.

However, if the Commissioner is not satisfied with the report she can commence a new investigation into the matter.

Generally speaking, the contents of the reports are confidential and are not released to the public or to the discloser. Statistical and summary information about the Office’s disclosure of wrongdoing activity is contained in the annual report which is available on the OIC website at www.oico.on.ca.

Does the OIC accept anonymous disclosures?

The OIC will consider anonymous disclosures on a case by case basis. If there is sufficient information to understand the allegation and determine whether the matter is within the Commissioner’s authority, the OIC may deal with it as it would with any other disclosure. If there is not sufficient information, the OIC may not be able to take any steps to deal with the matter but may consider forwarding the information to another authority or senior official to review.

Are disclosers protected from reprisal?

The disclosure of wrongdoing framework contains protection from reprisal; however, the Commissioner does not have authority to enforce the antireprisal provisions. Public servants who believe they are the subject of a reprisal, and whose employment is covered by a collective agreement, should seek assistance and information from their union. Those without union representation should contact the Ontario Labour Relations Board or the Public Service Grievance Board.

What does “wrongdoing” mean?

Wrongdoing has a special meaning within the Act. It means specific conduct of a public servant that is in one of the following four categories:
-contravention of a law;
-acts or omissions that create a grave danger to the life, health or safety of people or to the environment;
-gross mismanagement in the work of the public service of Ontario; or
-directing or counseling wrongdoing.

How should you contact us?

Call the OIC at 416-314-1581 or toll free at 1-866-884-4470 or email us at disclose@oico.on.ca. Staff will answer questions; explain the disclosure process and our role.

Our mailing address is:

Office of the Integrity Commissioner 
2 Bloor Street West, Suite 2100
Toronto, ON M4W 3E2

Where can you find the disclosure of wrongdoing form?

The disclosure of wrongdoing form can be found by clicking on this link.

You may also be interested in our fact sheet You Have Made a Disclosure of Wrongdoing - What You Need to Know

PDF versions of our fact sheets are also available below.

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