A law to protect whistleblowers is now in force for public schools in B.C.
Attorney General Niki Sharma announced the Public Interest Disclosure Act, passed in 2018, has now expanded to include the public kindergarten to Grade 12 education system, effective Friday (Dec. 1). The act protects employees who disclose concerns about serious wrongdoing affecting public interest to designated people within their organizations or to the Office of the Ombudsperson.
Sharma said that expanding the act to employees in the education system, such as educators and staff, will allow them to confidentially speak up and share information.
Specific types of wrongdoing that can be disclosed through the act include: a serious misuse of public funds or assets, gross or systematic management or knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit a wrongdoing.
Those who participate in investigations are protected from acts of retaliation, including demotions or termination. The act also ensures that the investigations are conducted fairly and transparently by requiring organizations and the ombudsperson to annually report disclosures received and the results of any investigations.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act came into effect four years ago and applies to staff in government ministries, independent offices of the legislature, tribunals, select agencies, boards, commissions, and Crown corporations, all provincial health authorities, Providence Health Care and BC Emergency Health Services.