Role of public bodies in disclosing wrongdoing
The public bodies subject to the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies have certain obligations under this Act. Their directors must:
- Establish a procedure to facilitate their employees' disclosures of wrongdoing;
- Name a person to oversee the procedure;
- Distribute the procedure to all their personnel.
The procedure may be drafted based on the Reference document for public bodies(PDF, 336 KiB, in French).
Some public bodies are not obliged to have an internal disclosure procedure or to appoint a designated officer.
Disclosures concerning these bodies can be made to the Québec Ombudsman or:
- For Municipal bodies: to the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’occupation du territoire (MAMOT).
- For childcare centres, subsidized day care centres and home childcare coordinating offices: to the Ministère de la Famille.
Only employees can contact the designated officer of a public body to make a disclosure about that public body. The staff can also go directly to the Québec Ombudsman.
Disclosures from a supplier, subcontractor, client, service user or anyone else who is not part of the staff must be referred to the Québec Ombudsman.
Procedure to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings
The procedure must:
- describe the process for making a disclosure;
- provide that the whistleblower receives a written acknowledgement of receipt;
- specify the deadlines for processing a disclosure;
- provide for measures to keep the identity of the whistleblower or of the person who cooperates in an audit or investigation confidential;
- provide for measures to protect the rights of alleged wrongdoers;
- describe the protection against reprisal and the deadlines for filing a reprisal complaint;
- inform the staff that they can either make the disclosure to the Québec Ombudsman or to the designated officer within their public body.
Obligations of disclosure officers
Disclosure officers must do all they can to protect the confidentiality of the information communicated to them. Officers are bound by discretion regarding the identity of the whistleblower and of anyone who cooperates in an investigation.
When officers receive a disclosure from an employee, they must:
- check whether a wrongdoing has been committed or is about to be committed;
- make sure to inform the people interviewed about the process underway (explain how the process works, its confidentiality, and protection against reprisal);
- put an end to the processing of a disclosure if the subject is not covered by the Act;
- forward the disclosure to the Québec Ombudsman if they feel that it is better suited to deal with the disclosure;
- keep in contact with the highest- ranking administrative official of the public body:
- to inform that person about the steps taken (unless the official is the alleged wrongdoer);
- to report that a wrongdoing has been committed or is about to be committed;
- inform the whistleblower once processing is completed. If they consider it appropriate, they can also inform the employee of the follow-up carried out.
Public bodies involved in a disclosure are obliged to cooperate with the Québec Ombudsman so that the investigation or audit is effective. Anyone who hinders or tries to hinder the Québec Ombudsman or the disclosure officer commits a criminal offense. The offender is liable to a fine of $4,000 to $20,000.
Requesting an exemption
Certain public bodies may be exempted from appointing a disclosure officer or having a disclosure procedure.
Learn more about the Procedure for requesting an exemption.