Making a Disclosure
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What happens after I make a disclosure?
The information provided will be assessed to determine if the Commissioner has authority to deal with the subject matter of the disclosure. The Commissioner will consider whether:
- The disclosure was made by a current or former Ontario public servant;
- The allegations raised in the disclosure are about an Ontario public servant, Minister or parliamentary assistant;
- The allegations are in the nature of a "wrongdoing" that may be accepted by the Commissioner.
The Commissioner has no discretion to take on matters that are clearly not permitted by legislation. Once the assessment is complete, you will be informed of the result of the review. You may be contacted if more information is required.
How will my disclosure be investigated?
If a disclosure falls within the Commissioner's authority, the matter is referred for investigation to a senior official within the Ontario government, such as a deputy minister or chair of a public body. The official is given 30 days to complete the investigation but extensions may be requested.
The Commissioner reviews the results of the investigation to make sure that the allegations are addressed in a meaningful and appropriate way. If satisfied with the investigation, the Commissioner may make recommendations and monitor corrective action taken. Alternatively, the Commissioner may commence an independent investigation.
Sometimes the official will refer the matter back to the Commissioner because they have a conflict of interest or lack the resources to properly investigate the matter. In these situations the Commissioner may commence an independent investigation.
If the Commissioner conducts an independent investigation, a report will be sent to a senior official within the Ontario government and the responsible minister. In some circumstances, a report about a disclosure may be made public.
What information will I receive after making a disclosure?
You will be informed whether the Commissioner is able to accept a disclosure, if the Commissioner is conducting an independent investigation and also receive a summary of findings following an investigation. You will be contacted if a report about a disclosure is to be made public. You may request additional procedural updates however the Commissioner may not be able to provide you with additional information because of limits set out in the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006.
Will my name be kept confidential?
The identity of a discloser is seldom needed to conduct an investigation into a disclosure of wrongdoing, and as such your name is kept confidential whenever possible. All those involved in the disclosure of wrongdoing framework – including senior officials – are required to carry out their duties in a manner that protects the identity of a discloser, unless the interests of fairness require otherwise. However, there are some situations where the allegations are so unique that the identity of a discloser will be obvious from the facts, despite efforts to maintain confidentiatlity. Additionally there are limited situations where the interests of fairness require that your identity be disclosed. If this becomes necessary you will be notified.
The Commissioner publishes summaries of disclosures in the Annual Report, however they do not contain the name of a discloser. Similarily if a report about a disclosure is made public, the name of a discloser is not released.
Can I make a disclosure anonymously?
Anonymous disclosures are reviewed on an individual basis and may be accepted if there is sufficient information to assess whether the discloser is a current/former public servant, and the alleged wrongdoing falls under the Commissioner’s authority. If you make a disclosure anonymously, you will not receive any further information about the disclosure. Information provided anonymously may also be forwarded to another organization for review.
Will I be protected from reprisals?
The Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 prohibits reprisals against any public servant who has sought advice about or made a disclosure of wrongdoing. The Act also protects public servants who co-operate in an investigation related to a disclosure of wrongdoing.
The Commissioner does not have authority to enforce these reprisal provisions.
Public servants who believe they are the subject of a reprisal, and whose employment is covered by a collective agreement, may seek information from their union. Those without union representation may contact the Ontario Labour Relations Board or the Public Service Grievance Board.