Disclosure of Wrongdoing FAQs
- As it relates to the disclosure and investigation of wrongdoing framework, when should I contact the Integrity Commissioner?
Some of the circumstances under which you should contact the Integrity Commissioner are:
- You have a question or you require additional information about the role of the Integrity Commissioner under the Disclosure of Wrongdoing provisions of the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (“PSOA”).
- You are a public servant and you require confidential information and guidance about disclosing a wrongdoing.
- You are a public servant who works in a Minister’s Office and you have knowledge of a potential wrongdoing that you would like to disclose.
- You are a public servant who has knowledge of a potential wrongdoing that you would like to disclose and you believe that it is inappropriate to disclose the wrongdoing to your ethics executive.
- You are a public servant who made a disclosure to your ethics executive and have concerns that the disclosure is not being dealt with appropriately.
- What is the difference between the Integrity Commissioner and “ethics executives” in all of the government departments and public bodies?
The Integrity Commissioner is an Officer of the Legislative Assembly that operates independent of government. This independence is important in the disclosure of wrongdoing framework because it provides public servants with the ability to make a disclosure to an independent officer if they do not believe it is appropriate to make an internal disclosure first. In addition, the Integrity Commissioner is the ethics executive for public servants who work in Ministers’ Offices.
- Who is a public servant?
A public servant is an employee or former employee of a ministry or a minister’s office, the Secretary of Cabinet, every deputy minister and all employees or appointees of public bodies.
- Who is an ethics executive?
An Ethics Executive is an individual designated under section 62 of the PSOA. Each ministry and public body has its own Ethics Executive. To give you an example, if you work in a ministry, the deputy minister is your Ethics Executive.
If you are a public servant and you are not sure who your Ethics Executive is, you can contact the Office of the Integrity Commissioner confidentially to assist you with finding this information.
Ethics Executives are responsible for:
- promoting ethical conduct by current and former public servants,
- answering questions about the application of conflict of interest rules,
- determining whether an in-service conflict of interest exists,
- providing direction where there is a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest, • receiving disclosures of wrongdoing from public servants within the applicable public body or ministry,
- accepting referrals of investigations from the Integrity Commissioner,
- completing investigations and all necessary reporting pursuant to a referral from the Integrity Commissioner.
- What would be considered “wrongdoing” under the legislation?
The legislation defines wrongdoing as:
- contravention by a public servant, minister or parliamentary assistant of legislation (federal or provincial);
- an act or omission by a public servant, minister or parliamentary assistant that creates a grave danger to life, health, safety or the environment;
- gross mismanagement by a public servant, a minister or parliamentary assistant in the work of the public service of Ontario; and
- directing or counselling a person to commit a wrongdoing that falls into these categories.
- What is a reprisal?
A reprisal is any measure taken against a public servant that adversely affects his or her employment or appointment which includes (but not limited to) ending, or threatening to end employment, discipline, threat of discipline or penalty, coercion or intimidation.
- Is there any type of information that cannot be disclosed?
The PSOA sets out three types of information that cannot be divulged (s. 113), either in a disclosure or in any process addressing the disclosure. These are:
- information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege;
- information that would reveal the deliberations of Cabinet (Cabinet privilege); or
- anything that is prepared by or for counsel for a ministry for use in giving legal advice or in regards to litigation.
- Will the Integrity Commissioner pay for a lawyer for a public servant interested in making a disclosure or a reprisal complaint?
In some circumstances the Integrity Commissioner can help. The Integrity Commissioner has authority to “arrange and pay” for the provision of legal services. The authority and maximum amount is set out in O. Reg. 385/07. The Integrity Commissioner must have a role in arranging for the legal services, so it is important that public servants contact this Office as soon as possible before contacting counsel.
- Will the Integrity Commissioner inform the discloser of the outcome of the disclosure?
Yes. The Integrity Commissioner will inform the discloser whether the disclosure was
- not accepted,
- accepted but no investigation, or
- investigation concluded.
The Integrity Commissioner may also provide such information on the investigation and findings considered appropriate in the circumstances.
- Where would the Integrity Commissioner’s report on an issue of wrongdoing go?
The Integrity Commissioner reports on an annual basis to the Legislature, the number, nature and resolution of disclosures of wrongdoing received. All investigation reports completed by the Integrity Commissioner are provided to the Minister responsible for the Ministry or public body. In addition, the Integrity Commissioner has the discretion to issue a report publicly if it is determined that it would be in the public interest.
- Where do I report imminent and serious danger?
If the matter is urgent and if there is imminent danger to life, health or safety, immediately contact the nearest emergency services, e.g., Police Services, Fire Services or Emergency Medical Services.
- What is a wrongdoing?
Wrongdoing has a special meaning in the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006. Wrongdoing refers to specific conduct of a public servant, minister or parliamentary assistant that is in one of the following four categories:
- contravention of a law;
- acts of 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 one of the above
- Who is my Ethics Executive?
An Ethics Executive is an individual designated under section 62 of the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 and has responsibilities for promoting ethical conduct within their ministry or public body. The ethics executive for public servants who work in a ministry, is the deputy minister. The ethics executive for public servants who work in a public body, is either the Chair or individual designated in O.Reg 147/10. If you need help identifying your ethics executive, you may contact the Office.