Requesting an exemption
Under the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies, all the public bodies subject to the Act must appoint an officer responsible for dealing with disclosures and establish a procedure for facilitating the disclosure of wrongdoings (PDF, 300 KB, In French). Under certain conditions, the Québec Ombudsman may exempt public bodies from these obligations if they make a request.
Grounds for an exemption
The Act provides that the Québec Ombudsman may exempt a public body from appointing an officer responsible for dealing with disclosures and from establishing a procedure for facilitating disclosure, notably because of the public body's size or scant resources.
The Québec Ombudsman automatically grants this exemption to public bodies with fewer than 50 employees that request it.
However, the public body must inform its employees that they may contact the Québec Ombudsman.
Public bodies with more than 50 employees that want to be exempted must base their request on other factors.
The public body's resources
If a public body considers that its resources are insufficient to comply with the obligations of the Act, it must demonstrate this to the Québec Ombudsman in its exemption request.
Examples of factors that the Québec Ombudsman may take into account in granting an exemption
- The estimated cost of establishing a disclosure procedure and of the activities of the officer responsible for dealing with disclosures.
- The availability of employees with the qualities needed for being an officer responsible for dealing with disclosures.
- The availability of adequate space for the tasks of the officer responsible for dealing with disclosures.
- The availability of resources for ensuring the confidentiality of communications and of the files of the officer responsible for dealing with disclosures.
Certain circumstances may temporarily affect a public body's ability to comply with the obligations of the Act.
- The public body has just been created or merged and it is unrealistic to envisage putting a new mechanism in place given the uncertainty regarding the organization of work or the organizational structure.
- The public body has an acting director or the position is vacant.