The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) came into force on April 15, 2007. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is included among the organizations covered by the application of the PSDPA. The goal of this law is to enhance the ability of federal government organizations to identify wrongdoings, to resolve the situations, and to protect employees from reprisals when allegations of wrongdoing are made in good faith and pertain to serious matters as defined by the Act.
Wrongdoing: This refers specifically to the contravention of an Act of Parliament or of the legislature of a province; the misuse of public funds or assets; gross mismanagement in the federal public sector; a serious breach of a code of conduct; an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger to the life, health and safety of Canadians or the environment; and knowingly directing or counseling a person to commit such a wrongdoing.
Reprisal: This refers to any of the following measures taken against a person who has made a protected disclosure pursuant to the PSDPA or has cooperated in an investigation: any disciplinary measure including the demotion of a person, termination of employment, the taking of any measure that adversely affect the employment or working conditions of a person or a threat to any of those things or to direct a person to do them.
Process: An employee should consider existing mechanisms provided by other laws and relevant policies (e.g. NRC Policy on Harassment in the Workplace, terms of collective agreements, and other instruments) before considering a disclosure according to PSDPA.
When a disclosure according to PSDPA is necessary, the organization (NRC) is given the opportunity to investigate the situation and correct it internally.
Employees have three options for making such disclosures under the PSDPA.
- (Option 1) The first is to submit it their immediate supervisor or other level of management.
- (Option 2) The employee can also submit a disclosure to the Senior Officer designated by the President for the purposes of the PSDPA: the NRC Senior Ethics Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- (Option 3) If it is not possible to resolve the situation internally, the employee may submit the situation to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (PSIC), who has investigatory powers.
Those three options refer to a "disclosure protected from reprisals". Under the PSDPA, an employee may make a public disclosure (in the media) only if there is not sufficient time to make the disclosure using the options previously described AND the employee believes on reasonable grounds that there is serious breach of federal or provincial laws, or an imminent risk of a substantial and specific danger to the life, health and safety of persons or to the environment. If these conditions are not satisfied, the employee would not have protection under the PSDPA.
Employees considering the submission of a disclosure of wrongdoing and managers that receive such disclosures are invited to contact the NRC Senior Ethics Officer (NRC-Corporate Secretariat) to obtain additional information. Information provided to the NRC-Corporate Secretariat will be dealt with on a confidential basis.