Information to public bodies
The public bodies subject to the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies must fulfil certain obligations under this Act.
The highest ranking administrative officials of public bodies must establish a procedure to facilitate their employees' disclosure of wrongdoings (PDF, 300 KB, In French) and to distribute it to all their personnel. They must also appoint an officer responsible for dealing with disclosures and for implementing the procedure (designated officer), unless they are exempted from doing so by the Québec Ombudsman.
Only employees can contact the officer of a public body to make a disclosure about that public body. Any disclosure from a supplier, subcontractor, client, user or anyone else who is not part of the personnel must be referred to the Québec Ombudsman.
Childcare centres, subsidized day care centres and home childcare coordinating offices do not have to have an officer or a procedure. Disclosures relating to them can be made to the Ministère de la Famille or the Québec Ombudsman.
When a public body is involved in a disclosure, it is obliged to cooperate with the Québec Ombudsman in the context of an audit or investigation. Anyone who hinders or attempts to hinder the Québec Ombudsman or a designated officer in the exercise of the functions of office, refuses to provide any information or a document they are required to provide or refuses to make it available, or conceals or destroys any document relevant to an audit or investigation is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine of $4,000 to $20,000.
Procedure to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings
The procedure must:
- describe the process for making a disclosure;
- provide for a written notice of receipt of the disclosed information to be sent to the whistleblower;
- specify the deadlines for processing a disclosure;
- provide for measures to keep the identity of the whistleblower or of the person who cooperates in an audit or investigation confidential;
- include measures to protect the rights of the persons involved in disclosure;
- describe the protection against reprisals and the deadlines for filing a complaint of reprisal;
- inform the personnel that they can either make the disclosure to the Québec Ombudsman or to the designated officer within their public body.
Obligations of designated officers
Designated officers must take all required measures to protect the confidentiality of the information communicated to them, notably, the identity of the whistleblower as well as that of anyone who cooperates in an investigation. They are bound to secrecy.
When they receive a disclosure from an employee, the officers:
- verify whether a wrongdoing has been committed or is about to be committed;
- forward the disclosure to the Québec Ombudsman if they feel that it, given the circumstances, is better suited to deal with the disclosure, and notify the employee accordingly;
- put an end to the processing of a disclosure if the subject is not covered by the Act;
- keep the highest ranking administrative official of the public body concerned informed about the steps they have taken, unless the disclosure was made against this person;
- report to the highest ranking administrative official of the public body concerned if they see that a wrongdoing has been committed or is about to be committed;
- if they consider it appropriate, notify the employee who made the disclosure of the follow-up carried out.