Whistleblower Awareness Day — Whistleblowers are crucial to public integrity

  • March 23, 2022
Corps

Québec City, March 23, 2022 – On the occasion of Whistleblower Awareness Day, March 24, 2022, the members of the Public Integrity Partners Forum, composed of the Autorité des marchés publics (AMP), the Office of the Inspector General of Ville de Montréal (BIG), the Commissaire à l’éthique à la déontologie (CED), the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ), Élections Québec, the Québec Ombudsman, and the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC), highlight the crucial contribution that whistleblowers make to public integrity.

Themed Strengthening public organization integrity—In it together, the half-day of conferences organized by the Forum is the first such event aimed at making public sector players aware of the importance of whistleblowers in protecting the probity of our public organizations. The goal is also to make it known that there is protection for those who disclose wrongdoings to an organization that is a Forum member.

The role of whistleblowers and the protection offered them

On March 24, 2022, the half-day of conferences will be presented virtually to various municipal and provincial organizations in order to promote the importance of the role of whistleblowers and of the protection they are provided. Québec Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret will open the event, followed by a word from the Minister Responsible for Government Administration and Chair of the Conseil du trésor, Sonia LeBel.

The half-day will begin with a panel consisting of the Inspector General of Ville de Montréal, Brigitte Bishop, Deputy Ombudsperson of the Québec Ombudsman Hélène Vallières, Anti-Corruption Commissioner Frédérick Gaudreau, and the President and Executive Director of the Autorité des marchés publics, Yves Trudel. They will discuss whistleblowers’ important role in achieving these bodies’ respective missions.

Jean-Philippe Drapeau, the Québec Ombudsman’s Acting Director of the Public Integrity Investigations Branch, will go on to narrate a fictitious situation based on true events to illustrate the real-life experiences of investigators.

Lastly, the new municipal investigative body created by the merger of the Commissaire à l'intégrité municipale et aux enquêtes (CIME) and the Commission municipale du Québec will be presented by Jean-Philippe Marois, Chair of the Commission municipale, and François Girard, Director of the future municipal body.

For the schedule and to register, consult the presentation here.

Making disclosure easier

Whistleblower Awareness Day is an opportunity to remind anyone who has or thinks they have witnessed public wrongdoing that they can contact the proper authority. When in doubt, they can contact the Québec Ombudsman, which will refer them to the right organization if it does not have jurisdiction.

The Public Integrity Partners Forum would also like to remind public institutions that they must do everything in their power to protect the identity of those who make such disclosures or who cooperate in audits or investigations stemming from disclosures. They must also ensure that whistleblowers do not become victims of reprisal.

For greater integrity within public bodies

In Québec, several organizations guard against and monitor public wrongdoing according to their purview. The Appendix describes the members of the Public Integrity Partners Forum, supporters of Whistleblower Awareness Day 2022.

Public Integrity Partners Forum

Coordinated by the Québec Ombudsperson, the Public Integrity Partners Forum harmonizes and coordinates activities to ensure public sector integrity, including those stemming from disclosures by whistleblowers. The members are the Autorité des marchés publics (AMP), the Office of the Inspector General of Ville de Montréal (BIG), the Commissaire à l’éthique à la déontologie (CED), the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ), Élections Québec, the Québec Ombudsman, and the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC).

– 30 –

Isabelle Rivoal
Person in charge of media relations and Spokesperson
Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ)
T: (418) 691-2014, ext. 83997
isabelle.rivoal@cmq.gouv.qc.ca

Carole-Anne Huot
Person in charge of media relations 
Protecteur du citoyen
T: (418) 925-7994
carole-anne.huot@protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca

Michel Forget
Deputy Inspector General
Bureau de l’inspecteur général (BIG)
T: (514) 984-8272
mforget@bigmtl.ca

Mathieu Galarneau
Spokesperson
Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC)
T: (514) 228-3098, ext.12345
media@upac.gouv.qc.ca

Catherine Durepos
Secretary General and Director of Institutional and Administrative Affairs
Commissaire à l’éthique et à la déontologie (CED)
T: (418) 643-1277
info@ced-qc.ca

Stéphane Hawey
Communications Adviser
Autorité des marchés publics (AMP)
T: (418) 803-1065
medias@amp.quebec

Julie St-Arnaud Drolet
Main Spokesperson and Strategic Adviser
Élections Québec
T: 1 888 870-3320
servicemedias@electionsquebec.qc.ca


APPENDIX – MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC INTEGRITY PARTNERS FORUM

Public contracts

Autorité des marchés publics (AMP)
The AMP’s mission is to oversee all public contracts, in particular compliance with the tendering and contract award process and to receive complaints from interested persons. Anyone may also   confidentially communicate information concerning contracts when the public body concerned appears not to comply or not to have complied with the contractual rules in force. Call 1 888 772-7443 or go to amp.quebec.

Office of the Inspector General of Ville de Montréal (BIG)
The mandate of the Office of the Inspector General of Ville de Montréal is to oversee the contracting process and the execution of contracts by Ville de Montréal or any legal person related to it. The Inspector General must take all necessary measures to protect the identity of persons who have communicated information to her. Penal provisions protect against reprisal a person who has communicated information to the Inspector General. See bigmtl.ca.

Anti-corruption

Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC)
The Anti-Corruption Commissioner is a specialized government-mandated law enforcement unit tasked to prevent and fight corruption in the public sector. It does this by leading and coordinating the government-appointed investigation and audit teams that form the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit. See upac.gouv.qc.ca.

Integrity of Québec’s public bodies (government departments, agencies and corporations, health network, education system)

Québec Ombudsman
The Québec Ombudsman is an impartial and independent ombudsman tasked to ensure that the rights of citizens are upheld in their dealings with public services. The Québec Ombudsman handles disclosures of wrongdoings relating to public services and reprisal complaints arising from disclosures. It can be contacted by phone at 1-800-463-5070, or at protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca.

Municipalities and probity of municipal elected officials

Commission des municipalités du Québec (CMQ)
As an independent organization in the municipal arena, the Commission municipale du Québec contributes to improving municipal governance and management, as well as public trust in municipal institutions. Anyone may, in strictest confidence, send the Commission information concerning possible breaches by elected municipal officials of the code of ethics and professional conduct of their respective municipalities.  For more information, see cmq.gouv.qc.ca/divulgation.

As of April 1, 2022, CMQ will also be responsible for receiving and handling disclosures from anyone who can prove that a wrongdoing related to a municipality or a municipal body has been committed, or is about to be, under the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies.

Québec Ombudsman
The Québec Ombudsman oversees the integrity of municipalities and municipal bodies in certain specific cases, in particular concerning laws of general application or situations related to provincial government departments. Since October 19, 2018, municipal bodies have been defined as public bodies and are therefore subject to the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies. Phone 1 800 463-5070 or go to protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca.

Ethics and professional conduct of provincial elected officials

Commissaire à l’éthique et à la déontologie (CED)
The Ethics Commissioner is an independent authority responsible for enforcing and applying the ethical principles and rules guiding the conduct of the Members of the Québec National Assembly and their staff. The Commissioner is available to answer people’s questions and listen to their concerns in strictest confidence. See www.ced.qc.ca.

Integrity of the electoral process

Élections Québec
Élections Québec is neutral and independent. Its mission is to ensure the integrity, transparency, and reliability of elections and to promote Québec's democratic values. In addition to ensuring that provincial elections run smoothly, it also oversees application of political financing rules, monitors electoral spending, and is the public plaintiff in ensuring compliance with Québec’s electoral rules. See www.electionsquebec.qc.ca.