Act amended to better support whistleblowers

THE Province announced on Thursday that it is making amendments to the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) to provide greater clarity for government employees who report serious wrongdoings under the act.

The act has now been implemented for more than a year in government ministries and the independent offices of the legislature.

The amendments are intended to support future expansion of PIDA within the broader public sector by ensuring consistent interpretation of critical definitions and provisions, and by clarifying statutory roles.

In addition to clarifying existing provisions based on the experience to date, the amendments provide for two years instead of six months to start the prosecution of an offence under PIDA, such as for a reprisal against a whistleblower. This makes the reprisal protections in PIDA more meaningful by recognizing that identifying and investigating a reprisal may often take longer than six months.

The Province is also more clearly defining key terms in the legislation, such as ‘disclosure’ and ‘advice’. These updates will explicitly outline the definition of each term and provide greater clarity around where the terms apply.

PIDA was brought into force on December 1, 2019. The act allows employees to confidentially disclose concerns about serious wrongdoing that may affect the public interest to their supervisor, an internal designated officer or the ombudsperson.

The act makes reprisals against employees an offence, which could take the form of a demotion, termination or other adverse measure.

It also fosters transparency by requiring ministries and the ombudsperson to report the number of disclosures they receive, and the results of any investigations they undertake each year.