Access to legal advice
The mechanism for access to legal advice managed by the Québec Ombudsman consists of financial assistance to cover the cost of legal counsel.
Who is eligible for access to legal advice?
The Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies provides for access to legal advice through the Québec Ombudsman. Access is available to anyone who:
- discloses or wants to disclose a wrongdoing;
- cooperates in an audit or investigation stemming from a disclosure;
- feels he or she has suffered reprisal stemming from a disclosure or an audit or investigation.
- Exclusion: When the reprisal may constitute a prohibited practice within the meaning of the Act respecting labour standards, whistleblowers are not eligible for access to legal advice through the Québec Ombudsman. However, they may be represented by an attorney from the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) or by their union, depending on the situation. Anyone who feels that he or she has experienced such reprisal must contact the CNESST.
Financial assistance is granted if the person’s specific situation warrants it. In each case, the Québec Ombudsman determines the terms of the access to legal advice (number of hours of legal counsel, conditions to satisfy, etc.).
Note that those requesting access to legal advice must ask the Québec Ombudsman for financial assistance before retaining legal counsel.
For all the details about the financial assistance granted by the Québec Ombudsman, see the document entitled Terms and conditions for access to legal advice (PDF, 107 KB).
Processing of requests
After receiving a request for access to legal advice, we:
- contact the person who made the request within two working days;
- examine the request’s admissibility;
- if necessary, contact the person to complete the file or obtain any useful documents;
- do all we can to finish analyzing the request and deliver our decision within 30 days of receiving the request.