Yukon Ombudsman Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner

Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act?

The Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA) went into effect on June 15, 2015. Its purpose is to promote public confidence by enabling employees of public entities to disclose wrongdoings that occur in public entities and protecting these employees from reprisal. The PIDWA also establishes the office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner.

Who is the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner?

The Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner (PIDC) is an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly who is authorized to investigate disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints about reprisals. The PIDC also has authority to review and comment on procedures established by public entities to manage disclosures of wrongdoing and provide advice to employees about making a wrongdoing disclosure and about the PIDWA generally.

In Yukon, the PIDC is also the Ombudsman and the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The staff in the PIDC’s office work to fulfill the mandates of the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA), the Ombudsman Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP Act) and once proclaimed the Health Information Privacy and Management Act.

How do I contact the Office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner?

You can contact the PIDC as follows.

Office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
Suite 201, 211 Hawkins Street Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 1X3
Phone: 867-667-8468 or toll free at 1-800-661-0408 ext.8468
Email: info@ombudsman.yk.ca

What is a wrongdoing?

A “wrongdoing” is defined in the PIDWA as:

  • (a) a contravention of an Act, a regulation made under an Act, an Act of Parliament, or a regulation made under an Act of Parliament;
  • (b) an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger
    • (i) to the life, health or safety of individuals, other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of the duties or functions of an employee, or
    • (ii) to the environment;
  • (c) gross mismanagement of public funds or a public asset;
  • (d) knowingly directing or counselling an individual to commit a wrongdoing described in any of paragraphs (a) to (c).
If I make a disclosure of wrongdoing will I be protected?

If you are an employee of a public entity you may disclose a wrongdoing and be protected from reprisal under the PIDWA provided the wrongdoing is disclosed in good faith.

Who can I disclose a wrongdoing to?

If you reasonably believe that you have information that will show a wrongdoing has occurred in a public entity or is about to occur, you may disclose the wrongdoing to:

  1. your supervisor,
  2. your designated officer for your public entity, or
  3. the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner (PIDC).

If your public entity has disclosure procedures, the PIDC cannot investigate until:

  1. you disclose the wrongdoing to your public entity using the procedures established, the investigation by your public entity is complete, a final is decision is issued, and you are unsatisfied with the decision made or action taken; or
  2. your public entity has not completed the investigation within a reasonable amount of time.

The PIDC can investigate your disclosure anytime if it involves your chief executive or designated officer, or the PIDC determines it would be inappropriate in the circumstances to require you to use your public entity’s disclosure procedures.

Can I disclose a wrongdoing publicly?

You may only disclose a wrongdoing publicly if you reasonably believe there is an imminent risk of a danger that is both substantial and specific to the life, health or safety of individuals or the environment, and there is insufficient time for you to disclose the wrongdoing to your public entity or the PIDC. When making a public disclosure, you must not disclose any information that is restricted from disclosure by a law or regulation of Yukon or Canada (ss. 15(c)).

Before disclosing the wrongdoing publicly you must first contact the appropriate law enforcement agency and follow any direction they provide. After the public disclosure, you must disclose the wrongdoing to your supervisor or your designated officer (if any).

Will I be required to put my disclosure of wrongdoing in writing?

You are required to put your disclosure of wrongdoing in writing and provide a description of the wrongdoing, the name of the alleged wrongdoer, the date of the wrongdoing, and whether you disclosed the wrongdoing to your public entity, if you received a response from the public entity, and other information as may be required.

Will my identity be protected if I disclose a wrongdoing?

The PIDWA requires the PIDC to protect information, and all staff in the Office of the PIDC swear or affirm an oath of secrecy.

Efforts are made to ensure your confidentiality as much as possible. However, depending on the specific nature of a case, it may not be possible to protect your identity. For example, if you work in a small office environment, your disclosure may be apparent to other staff.

Can I obtain advice prior to making a disclosure of wrongdoing?

If you are thinking about making a disclosure of wrongdoing you can seek advice from a supervisor, your designated officer (if one exists), or the PIDC. You may be asked to put your request for advice in writing.

What happens after I make a disclosure of wrongdoing?

If your public entity has disclosure procedures, these written policies and procedures will set out the process that will be followed to investigate whether a wrongdoing has occurred or is about to occur.

If your disclosure is made to the PIDC, the PIDC will:

  1. evaluate whether there is sufficient information to show a wrongdoing has occurred or may occur;
  2. upon determining the evidence is sufficient and to support a wrongdoing has occurred, notify the public entity about the disclosure;
  3. as appropriate, assign an investigator from the early case resolution (ECR) Team to try and resolve the matter with the public entity, or assign an investigator from the Investigation and Compliance Review Team to conduct a full investigation into the allegation;
  4. if a full investigation occurs, prepare a report for the public entity containing the PIDC’s findings about the wrongdoing and any recommendations to remedy a wrongdoing found; and
  5. provide you with information from the report that the PIDC determines is appropriate in the circumstances.
Can the PIDC decide not to investigate a disclosure of wrongdoing?

The PIDC may decide not to investigate a disclosure of wrongdoing if:

  1. it would be more appropriately dealt with using another procedure such as one established by a law, a collective agreement, employment agreement, or public entity policy,
  2. the disclosure is frivolous or vexatious,
  3. a lengthy delay has occurred between the alleged wrongdoing and disclosure such that investigating it would not serve a useful purpose,
  4. the disclosure relates to a matter that results from a balanced and informed decision-making process on a public policy or operational issue,
  5. there are not adequate particulars about the wrongdoing alleged, and
  6. another valid reasons exists not to investigate.

If the PIDC decides not to investigate your disclosure of wrongdoing, you will be notified of the reason.

What happens after the PIDC issues an investigation report?

If a settlement does not occur, the PIDC will finalize her investigation and issue an investigation report.  If report recommendations are made, PIDC can require the public entity to notify her within a specified time of the steps taken or proposed to be taken to implement the recommendations. The PIDC could also recommend a time period for implementation of recommendations.

Will I receive a copy of the investigation report?

PIDWA requires the PIDC to provide a copy of the report to the chief executive of the public entity, or if the chief executive is the alleged wrongdoer the Minister or Board Chair. You will not receive a copy of the report but will be provided with information the PIDC considers appropriate in the circumstances.

What will happen to an employee who is found to have committed a wrongdoing?

The PIDWA indicates that an employee who commits a wrongdoing is subject to disciplinary action including termination. In addition, the PIDC has authority to make finding and recommendations about the wrongdoing.

Am I required to make a disclosure if I learn about a wrongdoing?

There is no requirement in the PIDWA that a disclosure be made; it is your choice.

Will I be protected if I make a disclosure?

The PIDWA protects you from reprisal if you, in good faith: made a disclosure; sought advice from a supervisor, designated officer or the PIDC about making a disclosure; cooperated in a disclosure investigation; or declined to participate in a wrongdoing.

Where can I get more information about making a disclosure?

Contact the Office of the PIDC as follows:

Office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
Suite 201, 211 Hawkins Street Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 1X3
Phone: 867-667-8468 or toll free at 1-800-661-0408 ext.8468

What is a reprisal?

A reprisal is defined as discipline, demotion, termination, adversely affecting employment or working conditions, or threats to do these things to an employee who in good faith made a disclosure, sought advice about making a disclosure, cooperated in a disclosure investigation, or declined to participate in a wrongdoing.

It is an offence to take a reprisal against an employee and a person found guilty of this offence is subject to a fine up to $10,000.

How do I make a complaint about reprisal?

You may make a complaint about reprisal to the PIDC.

Your complaint must be made within 90 days from the date of the reprisal unless the PIDC decides it is appropriate in the circumstances to allow the complaint to be made after 90 days.

The PIDWA requires a reprisal complaint to be in writing and include: a description and date of the relevant wrongdoing; a description of the reprisal taken against the employee; a description and date of the alleged reprisal; the name of the reprisor(s), any information required by the regulations to PIDWA, and any additional information required by the PIDC to investigate the complaint.

Are there limitations on my ability to make a reprisal complaint to the PIDC?

If you make a reprisal complaint using a procedure under a Yukon or federal law, a collective agreement, an employment agreement or policy of the public entity, the PIDC is not allowed to investigate. Plus, if you make a complaint using any one of these procedures during an investigation by the PIDC, the PIDC must stop investigating.

What happens after I make a reprisal complaint?

Upon receipt of your complaint of reprisal, the PIDC will:

  1. determine if the complaint is within the specified timeframe and if not decide whether to extend the timeframe;
  2. if within the timeframe specified or an extension granted, evaluate whether there is sufficient information to show a reprisal occurred;
  3. if there is sufficient evidence and upon deciding to investigate the complaint, notify the public entity about the complaint;
  4. as appropriate, assign an investigator from the early case resolution (ECR) Team to try and settle the complaint between the public entity and the employee, or assign an investigator from the Investigation and Compliance Review Team to conduct a full investigation into the complaint;
  5. if a full investigation occurs, prepare a report for the public entity containing the PIDC’s findings about the wrongdoing and any recommendations to remedy a wrongdoing found; and
  6. provide you with information from the report that the PIDC determines is appropriate in the circumstances.
What will happen to the employer who committs a reprisal?

If the PIDC finds that a reprisal occurred, she can make any recommendations she deems appropriate to remedy the reprisal. A person who commits a reprisal may be found guilty of an offence under the PIDWA and be required to pay a fine up to $10,000.

What if the public entity refuses to follow the recommendations?

If a public entity decides or is deemed not to follow a recommendation made to remedy a reprisal found to have occurred by the PIDC, the PIDC or a public entity may refer any matter in dispute associated with the reprisal complaint to an arbitrator who has the power to make an award that is binding on the public entity, the PIDC, and you.

If an arbitrator finds a reprisal occurred against you, depending on the reprisal taken, the arbitrator has the very broad powers to:

  • permit an employee to return to his or her duties;
  • reinstate an employee or pay damages if the trust relationship between the employee and public entity cannot be restored;
  • compensate an employee for lost wages or expenses incurred or other financial losses resulting from the reprisal;
  • cease any reprisal activity; and
  • rectify a situation resulting from reprisal; or
  • do or refrain from doing anything to remedy a consequence of reprisal.
What is the process for arbitration?

It is up to the arbitrator to determine the procedure to be used. The PIDWA requires, however, that the arbitrator provide the PIDC, you, the alleged reprisor, and the public entity the opportunity to make submissions and present evidence.

Who does PIDWA apply to?

The law applies to the following public entities: 
Yukon government departments, directorates, secretariats or other similar  executive agencies;  
Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, Yukon Development Corporation, Yukon Energy Corporation, Yukon Hospital Corporation, Yukon Housing Corporation, and Yukon Liquor Corporation;
and other specified public entities, including Yukon College, the Legislative Assembly Office, Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, and Office of the Chief Electoral Officer. 


Current employees – including contract employees – of these public entities can seek advice about making, or make, a disclosure of wrongdoing, and be reprisal protected for doing so. 


A former employee who believes their employment was terminated (i.e. was fired) in reprisal for engaging in disclosure-related activities while previously employed by a public entity, is also eligible to make a reprisal complaint under the Act

Can I disclosure a wrongdoing before it happens?

Yes, a disclosure can be about a wrongdoing that has been committed or is about to be committed.

Can I disclose confidential information?

With some exceptions, an employee can make a disclosure even if another law or regulation prohibits disclosure of the information. If the disclosure involves personal or confidential information, the employee must take reasonable precautions to ensure that no more information is disclosed than is necessary to make the disclosure. Contact us for advice if you have concerns about disclosing confidential information. 

Can I make an anonymous disclosure of wrongdoing?

No, but you will remain anonymous to the public entity. 

Am I protected from reprisal even if no wrongdoing is found?

Yes, provided you made your disclosure in good faith and in accordance with the requirements of PIDWA. 

Is there a deadline to make a reprisal complaint?

A complaint of reprisal must be filed with the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner not later than 90 days after the day on which the employee knew, or in the PIDC’s opinion, ought to have known, that the reprisal was taken. However, the PIDC has discretion to accept a later complaint if the PIDC believes it is appropriate, considering the circumstances of the employee.