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Public Interest Disclosure

The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) establishes “whistleblower” protection for employees in the public sector. PIDA came into effect for school districts on December 1, 2023. 

 

PIDA provides mechanisms for investigating allegations of wrongdoing and where wrongdoing is found, the means to address it. PIDA also provides protection for public sector employees who speak up about serious or systemic wrongdoing within a public body.

 

Organizations subject to PIDA must receive, investigate, and respond to wrongdoing reported under PIDA. They are also required to provide information and training to their employees about the processes established under PIDA.

FAQ's

Employees can report wrongdoing in writing by using the Public Interest Disclosure Policy – Disclosure Form

This can be sent to:

  1. Your supervisor
  2. The Superintendent
  3. A Designated Officer other than the Superintendent (Secretary-Treasurer)
  4. The Ombudsperson

PIDA prohibits reprisal against employees who report wrongdoing, ask for advice about reporting wrongdoing, or cooperate with an investigation. Reprisal can include demotion, disciplinary measures, termination of employment or any measure that adversely affects an employee’s employment or working conditions.

 

Employees can make a complaint to the Ombudsperson if they experience reprisal.

If an employee reports wrongdoing, the Act requires that their personal information and identity will be kept confidential to the extent possible.

 

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) provides that investigative records are exempt from disclosure. This means that members of the public cannot access the office’s records that relate to a report of wrongdoing or reprisal complaint through a freedom of information request.

Wrongdoing is conduct that is:

 

  • a serious act or failure to act that, if proven, would be an offence under the laws of BC or Canada;
  • an act or failure to act that creates a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of persons, or to the environment, other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of an employee’s duties or functions;
  • a serious misuse of public funds or public assets;
  • gross or systemic mismanagement; or
  • knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit wrongdoing described above.

Yes. You can get advice from your supervisor, your designated officer, a lawyer, your union representative, employee association or the Ombudsperson. Under PIDA, you are protected from reprisal when asking for advice from these parties.

An employee or former employee of the school district can report wrongdoing. Employees can report wrongdoing that has happened in the past, is currently taking place or that they believe is about to happen. An employee can report wrongdoing regardless of whether they are a permanent, temporary, casual, part-time or full-time employee.

 

Former employees can only report wrongdoing that they discovered, or that occurred, while they were employed.

Yes. PIDA does not have any time restrictions. However, it may not be possible to investigate wrongdoing that happened a long time ago if evidence or witnesses are no longer available or there would be no useful purpose in an investigation.

A Disclosure may be submitted to the School District on an anonymous basis but must contain sufficient information to permit the School District to conduct a full and fair investigation into the alleged Wrongdoing.

The School District shall seek to complete all Investigations within 90 calendar days of receipt of a Disclosure.  All Investigations shall be conducted by an internal or external investigator with sufficient qualifications and experience to carry out the Investigation, though overall responsibility and accountability for the Investigation remains with the Designated Officer (Secretary-Treasurer).

Subject to the School District’s obligations under FIPPA, the Discloser and the Respondent(s) will be provided with a summary of the School District’s findings, including:

  1. notice of any finding of Wrongdoing
  2. a summary of the reasons supporting any finding of Wrongdoing
  3. any recommendations to address findings of Wrongdoing
RESOURCES
 

The Public Interest Disclosure Act:  Public Interest Disclosure Act (gov.bc.ca)

 

Kootenay Columbia School District No. 20