Investigation concludes public school division did not create a danger to health and safety
A public school division was accused of creating a danger to the health and safety of staff and students following the discovery of mould in a dormitory-style residence. It was alleged the school division failed or neglected to maintain the residence resulting in mould contamination, and failed to respond to health and safety risks resulting from the mould.
The investigation found that although the presence of mould at the residence could have posed a potential health risk to certain individuals, the school division was not responsible for the maintenance of the residence; rather, the residence was owned by a private non-profit society and was leased to the school division. Further, the investigation concluded the school division responded appropriately when the mould was discovered by ensuring professional remediation occurred and by billeting students until the residence was deemed safe. The school division did not create a danger to the health and safety of individuals, and therefore wrongdoing did not occur.
Investigation not required as issue already addressed by department
A disclosure alleged a department was not responding to complaints regarding the safety of children in care. The concerns were reviewed with the department and it was found the department was alive to the issues and was already addressing all of the concerns. An investigation was not initiated as it was determined the subject matter of the complaint was already appropriately being addressed by the department.
In certain circumstances, it is more efficient to make inquiries and review a disclosure with a public entity before initiating a full-scale investigation. Investigations can be time-consuming pulling government employees away from their work of delivering services to the public. In this case, our office was able to confirm quite quickly the subject-matter of the disclosure was already being addressed and a full-scale investigation was not required.
Often, due to privacy reasons, whistleblowers may be unaware of actions a department or public entity is taking in response to a complaint. Contacting a Designated Officer or the Public Interest Commissioner is an effective mechanism for employees to ensure their concerns about potential wrongdoing are being addressed.