Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner Working On Investigations, Supporting Public Servants In Speaking Out
Saskatchewan’s Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner, Mary McFadyen’s 2013-14 Annual Report was tabled today. In it, she reported that public servants made three disclosures to her office in 2013-14, two of which are under investigation and the third is being assessed for possible investigation. The disclosures were made under The Public Interest Disclosure Act (the Act), which provides protection to public servants who disclose wrongdoings to either a designated officer in their workplace or directly to the Commissioner. While the presence of these disclosures indicates that public servants are beginning to make use of the protections available under the Act, McFadyen has some questions.
“There are about 12,000 public servants in Saskatchewan,” said McFadyen, “so we have to ask why there were only three disclosures. Are public servants aware of our office? Perhaps they are choosing to disclose wrongdoings internally and if they do, are the proper procedures in place?”
McFadyen acknowledges that other provinces also experienced low numbers in the early years of their operations, but she also wants to make sure that, as commissioner, her office is taking the right steps to support public servants in speaking out. She said, “Speaking out is not easy and those who do need to be supported and protected.” McFadyen wants to ensure that every public servant is aware of their reporting options and of the protections provided to them under the Act.
Her office will also continue to work with designated officers across government to help them to be better prepared to respond if someone has an inquiry or makes a disclosure. She said, “Over the next year we will undertake a compliance review to determine whether government agencies have the right policies and procedures in place to respond to concerns raised and disclosures of wrongdoings.” McFadyen will report on the results of the compliance review.
In addition to working with public servants and designated officers, McFadyen notes that within the health sector, only employees at the Ministry of Health and eHealth are protected. McFadyen’s office has been receiving inquiries from other health organizations which are not covered by the Act. She will continue to monitor these inquiries and will engage the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to explore the possibility of extending the protections of the Act to more of these organizations.
The Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner is an officer of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan to whom public servants can disclose a potential wrongdoing as defined by the Act. (Public servants can also disclose potential wrongdoings to a designated officer within their organization.) Public servants who inquire about the Act or make a disclosure to either their designated officer or the Commissioner are protected from reprisals. If they experience reprisals, they can also disclose this information to the Commissioner. Based on the Act, Saskatchewan’s Ombudsman serves a dual role as the province’s Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner. For more information about the Act, the Commissioner, or disclosing a wrongdoing, visit the office’s website at www.saskpidc.ca.
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Director of Communications
PIDC Annual Report 2013-14 (application/pdf, 352.45 Kb)