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What is the Public Interest Disclosure Act, and Why Should I Know About It?

Sept 2, 2022

As of December 1st, 2019, the Public Disclosure Act (PIDA) came into effect for employees of government ministries in British Columbia. This act was birthed by a desire to ensure the ethical running of the public sector. It seeks to allow current and past employees a safe way to report wrongdoing at their place of employment and stay protected while doing so.

PIDA covers explicitly a specific type of “wrongdoings,” including the following:

  • A severe act or omission that, if proven, would constitute an offence under an enactment of BC or Canada;

  • An act or omission 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;

  • Serious misuse of public funds of public assets;

  • Gross or systemic mismanagement; or,

  • Knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit wrongdoing as described above.

PIDA requires government bodies to create a structure of safe reporting that ensures employees and former employees can report issues of wrongdoing without fear of reprisal. Not only does it secure that any report made in good faith will have no reprisal, but it also allows for anonymous reporting should the individual making the report feel safer with that level of confidentiality. PIDA allows these reports can be set up to be reported to supervisors, the Ombudsperson, or a designated officer.

More and more organizations value using a third-party designated officer to provide an extra layer of safety for employees or former employees reporting as they know when they speak to the officer, there is no risk their identity will be compromised to their colleagues should they wish to remain anonymous.

While the act currently only covers governmental ministries, it is being adopted by many organizations that want to ensure the ethical running of their business and demonstrate exemplary practices to their employees and the public. From health care to education to finance and everything in between, companies see the importance of creating a safe reporting structure for individuals to alert them to wrongful actions. Ignorance is not bliss in this situation and can cost money, put peoples’ lives at risk, and cause irreparable damage to an organization’s reputation.

The Neutral Zone has been working in the field of safe reporting for over a decade and has tailored programs for small and large companies alike. Providing excellent, effective, and ethical services, we support organizations in setting up and running whistleblower programs that meet their needs. Contact us for a no-cost preliminary discussion of what this can look like for you.

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