The purpose of the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (the Act) is to bring wrongdoing or cases of reprisal to the attention of a public sector organization so corrective measures can be taken.
The Act allows for the reporting and investigation of wrongdoing to be conducted either internally by the designated officer, or by the Public Interest Commissioner. In this regard, there is a common goal between the Commissioner and designated officers.
From a practical perspective, designated officers are far better positioned to undertake investigations within their organization as they are most familiar with internal policies, procedures, and laws that govern the organization. They know the right people to speak with, and where to go for relevant records. The Public Interest Commissioner’s office provides the investigative expertise, resources, and independent oversight to public interest disclosure investigations. Both roles complement each other and it reasons that working collaboratively with organizations is a far more efficient and effective way to conduct investigations.
Simply put – a collaborative process works better than an adversarial process.
Some organizations who have experienced investigations with our office recognize this and are eager to assist and participate in investigations when the Commissioner’s office calls. For others, this is a new concept and a change in how these types of investigations are traditionally seen. One of our objectives is to build strong relationships with organizations in order to effectively conduct public interest investigations. When applicable, this may mean changing misconceptions.
The objective of the Public Interest Commissioner, and our approach to conducting investigations, is to work with organizations to help them detect and remedy wrongdoing. Organizations that embrace a positive philosophy around whistleblowers, have effective whistleblower programs, and work with the Public Interest Commissioner’s office, will reap the benefits of a productive workplace. Not only will they accomplish their operational goals, they will well represent the public’s interest in the function of their organization and promote public confidence of their services.