Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner says new government guidelines are a positive first step
Thu, May 30, 2019
WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner (PIDC) is pleased that the Yukon government has adopted a set of guidelines to disclosing wrongdoing under the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA). The Yukon government’s Public Service Commission (PSC) worked with government departments to develop the guidance document to help educate employees of public entities about their rights and obligations under the legislation.
PIDWA, sometimes referred to as whistle-blower legislation, was brought into force in June 2015. Its purpose is to facilitate the disclosure and investigation of significant and serious matters that an employee believes may be unlawful, dangerous to the public or harmful to the public interest. It also provides for the protection of employees from reprisal for making disclosures.
“The process to disclose a wrongdoing under PIDWA is still not well understood by employees of public entities covered by the legislation,” said PIDC Diane McLeod-McKay. “This can lead to several significant problems. Employees may not receive the reprisal protection they are entitled to under PIDWA. As well, employees to whom a disclosure is made may not recognize them as disclosures covered under PIDWA and steer the disclosing employee down the wrong path. I am continuing to work to increase awareness of PIDWA, but I’m also pleased that the Yukon government is assisting with this guidance document. I was able to review the guidelines before they were finalized and provide my input, most of which was accepted.”
The PSC and the PIDC have agreed that the guidance document is a “living document” that allows the government to consider making changes to it, as experience is gained with implementation of PIDWA.
“I see this as a positive first step,” added McLeod-McKay. “I am also encouraging public entities to develop and implement their own disclosure procedures as set out in PIDWA. Such procedures would help ensure the process is managed by an individual who is properly trained on receiving and investigating disclosures of wrongdoing. This individual would also be responsible for ensuring the identity of the disclosing employee is protected to mitigate the risk of reprisal. A key step is to ensure employees are well educated about the procedures, once developed.”
The PIDC was informed by the Public Service Commission that the new guidelines were shared via email and newsletter with Yukon government employees, who are also able to access them on the government’s internal web pages. She was also informed about government plans to provide presentations and online training to employees on the guidelines.
McLeod-McKay will be monitoring to ensure that the training provides adequate awareness. She notes that awareness and training are an essential element to implementation.
The PSC has provided a link to the guidelines here, stating that all Yukon government departments and corporations have adopted the guidelines and that the intent of the guidelines is to help Yukon government employees understand their options and responsibilities under the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act.
The Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner is an independent officer of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. For more information, please go to http://www.ombudsman.yk.ca/.
Office of the Yukon Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner