Integrity of government departments and public agencies: what's a wrongdoing?

  • March 25, 2024
  • Disclosure
A professional employee looks doubtful while looking at her cell phone in the office.

The staff of government departments and public agencies must act with integrity and transparency. If you see the opposite, you may have witnessed a wrongdoing. Here are some tips for recognizing and disclosing wrongdoing.

In Québec, the Québec Ombudsman oversees the integrity of government departments and public agencies. It handles disclosures of wrongdoing and conducts rigorous investigations to determine whether wrongdoing has been committed or is about to be committed. 

What do we mean by wrongdoing?

To be considered a wrongdoing, acts or conduct must be serious and have a public interest component.

There are five categories:

  1. Misuse of a public body's funds or property.
    Examples: using a public body’s vehicle for personal purposes; being reimbursed for unauthorized or unnecessary expenses; using public funds for other than intended purposes;
  2. Damage or risk of damage to health, safety or the environment.
    Examples: negligence in planning, building or renovating public infrastructure; contaminating the environment by spilling toxic products that pose a serious risk to air, water or food.
  3. Serious breach of ethics and professional conduct.
    Examples: revealing confidential information without authorization; having stakes in a company whose activities are closely related to the duties of the position held within a public body;
  4. Mismanagement within a public body, and abuse of authority.
    Examples: systematically circumventing hiring rules to favour certain candidates; behaving inappropriately towards employees, refusing to heed team advice, and repeatedly making hurtful remarks in the workplace;
  5. Serious violation of a law or regulation applicable in Québec.
    Example: failing to carry out duties or responsibilities in accordance with the law in force. 

Ordering or advising a person to commit a wrongdoing is also considered a wrongdoing.

Any questions?

To find out more, see How to disclose a wrongdoing and Frequently asked questions on our website.

To disclose a wrongdoing, use our secure disclosure form.

You can also call us at 1-800-463-5070, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Don't hesitate: our services are strictly confidential and free of charge.

Also see: Whistleblower Awareness Day: speak out to improve public service integrity