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Province expands whistleblower protections

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:27 PST, Fri December 2, 2022

As of yesterday (Dec. 1), more employees at B.C.'s agencies, boards, commissions, and a number of Crown corporations will be protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

The act allows current and former employees to confidentially share information about a serious wrongdoing that affects the public interest with designated officers within their organizations or to the Office of the Ombudsperson. The act fosters transparency by requiring ministries and the ombudsperson to report each year the number of disclosures they receive and the results of any investigations they undertake.

It also provides employees who participate in investigations under the act with protection from reprisals, such as demotion, termination, or other measures that adversely affect the employee's work conditions. It ensures that employees under investigation are treated fairly.

The province passed the Public Interest Disclosure Act in 2018 in response to the ombudsperson's 2017 report, Misfire: The 2012 Ministry of Health Employment Terminations and Related Matters. The province has implemented all 41 recommendations in the report.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act, which came into force on Dec. 1, 2019, applied to staff in government ministries, independent offices of the legislature, and tribunals, as well as select agencies, boards, and commissions. Bringing other public-sector organizations, such as Crown corporations and more agencies, boards, and commissions, under the act will more closely align B.C. with other jurisdictions in Canada.

The Government Body Designation (Public Interest Disclosure) Regulation now includes 39 more organizations that will be covered by the act. The list of organizations added is below:

• 0838465 B.C. Ltd.

• 0839565 B.C. Ltd.

• BC Assessment

• BC Council for International Education

• BC Family Maintenance Agency

• BC Financial Services Authority

• BC Housing

• BC Infrastructure Benefits

• BC Lottery Corporation

• BC Pavilion Corporation

• BC Transit

• BCR Properties Ltd.

• British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority

• British Columbia Investment Management Corp.

• British Columbia Railway Company

• British Columbia Securities Commission

• Columbia Basin Trust

• Columbia Power Corporation

• Community Living British Columbia

• Creative BC

• Destination British Columbia

• Economic Trust of the Southern Interior

• First Peoples' Cultural Council

• Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd.

• Haida Gwaii Management Council

• Industry Training Authority

• Infrastructure BC (Partnerships British Columbia Inc.)

• Innovate BC

• Insurance Corporation of British Columbia

• Insurance Council of British Columbia

• Island Coastal Economic Trust

• Knowledge Network

• Legal Aid BC

• Northern Development Initiative Trust

• Office of the British Columbia Container Trucking Commissioner

• Royal British Columbia Museum

• Transportation Investment Corporation

• Vancouver Wharves Ltd.

• Victoria Regional Transit Commission

Other organizations, including health authorities and educational institutions, are expected to be brought under the act in 2023 and 2024.

To read the Public Interest Disclosure Act, visit bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/18022.

To learn more about the Public Interest Disclosure Act and how to make a disclosure, visit gov.bc.ca/gov/content/careers-myhr/about-the-bc-public-service/ethics-standards-of-conduct/knowing-about-public-interest-disclosure.

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