Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
2016 Annual Reports Issued
Wed, Apr 26, 2017
ANNUAL REPORTS CALL FOR INCREASED PUBLIC AWARENESS
Better understanding needed of role of Yukon Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
The need for more information and awareness of the role and work of her office is a key theme running through the 2016 annual reports of the Yukon Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC), and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner (PIDC). Diane McLeod-McKay, who serves in all three roles, issued her 2016 annual reports this week. The reports focus on the need for improved public awareness and knowledge of the purpose and responsibilities of her office.
“The work I do in these three positions is very different in some ways, but one similarity is educating Yukoners about the rights that they are entitled to under four separate pieces of legislation,” said McLeod-McKay. “Part of my role is to help Yukoners understand these rights and know what to do if they have a complaint or issue they want to raise under this legislation. Without that, these laws cannot operate as effectively as they are intended to. Looking back over 2016, I see a need for better education and outreach, so that will be a focus for me in the current year.”
For example, McLeod-McKay serves as Ombudsman under the Ombudsman Act and can investigate a complaint from anyone who believes they were treated unfairly by a public authority such as a government department, public school, Yukon College, etc. The low number of complaints in 2016 suggests a need for better public information about the Ombudsman’s work, said McLeod-McKay.
As Information and Privacy Commissioner, McLeod-McKay works with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP Act) and the Health Information Privacy and Management Act (HIPMA). The ATIPP Act is currently undergoing a review which could result in changes. HIPMA is relatively new legislation brought into force last year.
“Both these acts affect every single Yukoner and the way their personal information is handled and protected by public bodies and custodians of health information, so it’s very important that people have a good understanding of these laws and their rights under them, especially since changes may be coming for one of the acts,” said McLeod-McKay. “In addition, it’s critical that staff whose work is governed by these acts are aware of their responsibilities. Our 2016 annual reports indicate that more education is needed for staff as well.”
Under the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA), McLeod-McKay took on the new role of Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner in mid-2015. PIDWA sets out the rules for public employees to disclose wrongdoings within government, without fearing reprisal. Because the act is so new, there is an ongoing need to ensure employees understand how PIDWA protects them.
“A key goal in regard to all three of my roles is to build relationships, both with Yukoners in general and with government, public authorities, public bodies and custodians of health information,” added McLeod-McKay. “That’s an area I will be focusing on in the coming year. In addition, all three of the annual reports provide helpful information, so I encourage people to read the copies that come in the mail, or view them online.”
The three annual reports have been delivered to the Yukon Legislative Assembly to be distributed to every Yukon Minister and MLA. The 2016 PIDC Annual Report is also available at http://www.ombudsman.yk.ca/yukon-public-interest-disclosure-commissioner/for-employees/annual-reports and will be distributed via Canada Post to all Yukon mailboxes, both residential and business. As well, extra copies will be available at the Office of the Ombudsman, IPC and PIDC, located in Suite 201, 211 Hawkins Street in Whitehorse.
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 www.ombudsman.yk.ca.