A new mandate for the Québec Ombudsman: Whistleblowers now enjoy reliable, safe, and independent recourse
Québec City, May 1, 2017 – The Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies, which comes into force today, makes it possible for anyone to disclose a wrongdoing involving a public body, anonymously or otherwise, to the Québec Ombudsman with complete confidence and confidentiality. Whistleblowers may be members of the personnel of a public body subject to the Act, suppliers, subcontractors or anyone else who knows that wrongdoing has occurred or is about to occur.
"The Québec Ombudsman’s investigative expertise, its knowledge of public services, the competence of its team assigned the mandate to investigate public integrity disclosures, the soundness of its procedures and the reliability of the protective measures put in place empower us to, as of today, provide dependable recourse in order to shed light on the disclosures that will be brought to us." (Marie Rinfret, Ombudsperson)
With nearly 50 years’ experience in investigations concerning Québec’s public services, since its inception, the Québec Ombudsman has stood out as an institution which is rigorous, independent, impartial and uncompromising when it comes to protecting the confidential information it is given by the people who use its services.
Note that the Québec Ombudsman is granted powers under the Act respecting public inquiry commissions. "This means that it can order access to any document it considers useful for audit purposes and question anyone whose testimony is needed for the investigation it conducts. It will do this whenever necessary," the Ombudsperson cautioned.
Public bodies about which a disclosure can be made
- Québec government departments and agencies;
- State corporations (e.g. Hydro-Québec, Loto-Québec, Société des alcools du Québec);
- Public health and social services institutions and private institutions under contract (e.g. CHSLDs, hospitals, CLSCs);
- Schools boards and their schools;
- Public cegeps and universities;
- Childcare centres and subsidized day care centres.
Protection against reprisal
If you make a disclosure or cooperate in an investigation and feel that you are being subjected to reprisal as a result, the Act protects you. It provides for fines ranging from $2,000 to $250,000, and double for subsequent offences. Anyone who believes he or she is a victim of reprisal, which includes measures to prevent the person from making a disclosure, may file a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman or, if reprisal is job-related (dismissal, suspension, etc.), with the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST).
Access to legal advice
Free access to legal advice is available under certain conditions to people who want to make a disclosure or who, after doing so, feel that they are suffering reprisal.
For more information
Visit divulgation.protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca for the complete list of the public bodies subject to the Act, for secure online disclosure or reprisal forms, for information about access to legal advice or for other useful information.
The Québec Ombudsman
The Québec Ombudsman is an independent and impartial institution. With its new mandate, the Québec Ombudsman now has four specific areas of jurisdiction:
- Complaints concerning Québec government departments and agencies;
- Complaints and reports concerning institutions within the health and social services network;
- Complaints from detainees in correctional facilities under Québec governance;
- Disclosures of wrongdoing regarding public bodies and complaints stemming from reprisal further to disclosure of wrongdoing or to cooperation in an investigation or audit.
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