Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act: overview
Overview of the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act, including who can report (disclose) wrongdoing and what actions employers can or cannot take.
The Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act provides a framework for citizens and government and public sector body employees to report (disclose) wrongdoing by current employees of government and public sector bodies. The act protects employees by making sure that employers don’t take reprisal (negative action) against an employee who reports (discloses) wrongdoing.
Definition of wrongdoing
Under the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act, wrongdoing is:
- contravening (breaking) the law or regulations if the contravention is related to the official activity of an employee as an employee of government or a public sector body, or any public funds or assets
- misusing or mismanaging public funds or assets
- acting or failing to act in a way that creates substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of people or the environment
- directing or advising someone to commit a wrongdoing
Employees of government and public sector bodies who want to report (disclose) a wrongdoing
You may report (disclose) wrongdoing if you work or worked for:
- government department, office or public sector body (see Schedule A of the act)
- government agency, board or commission
- an existing or former Nova Scotia school board
These organizations need to appoint a designated officer to receive the complaints. You can speak to the designated officer or to the provincial Ombudsman to get advice on how to handle the report (disclosure).
You need to report (disclose) the wrongdoing in writing within 12 months of your becoming aware of the wrongdoing.
Citizens who want to report (disclose) a wrongdoing
If you’re concerned about wrongdoing of an employee of government or a public sector body, you need to either contact the Office of the Ombudsman to get more information about what is considered wrongdoing or unfairness by government, or make a disclosure.
You can also contact the Office of the Ombudsman if an employee of government or a public sector body isn’t committing wrongdoing, but is behaving in a way that concerns you (for example, in how they provide programs, or in fairness and accountability issues).
Employers’ responsibilities under the act
Employers who are subject to the act have specific responsibilities. The main responsibilities include naming a designated officer to receive reports (disclosures) of wrongdoing in the organization and to formally report on any reports (disclosures) of wrongdoing received during the year.
When to contact law enforcement or a medical officer
If you feel a wrongdoing is an immediate risk to the life, health or safety of people or the environment, contact the appropriate law enforcement agency or a medical officer.
Government departments must report annually on:
- how many reports (disclosures) of wrongdoing they received
- number of investigations they undertook
- any findings, recommendations or corrective actions
A person can be fined up to $10,000.