As we continue to inch closer to what is the busiest time of the year for ACFO-ACAF members, it is important to take time to ensure you’re aware of what processes are in place to protect you in the event that you witness wrongdoing in your workplace. Therefore, we’d like to provide you with an in-depth look into what whistleblowing is, the disclosure process that is currently in place, and some recommendations that have been made by the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates’ (OGGO) regarding strengthening protection for whistleblowers.

What is whistleblowing?

The term ‘whistleblower’ describes the act by which an individual comes forward to someone of higher authority within an organization with the intention of disclosing wrongdoing that they have either witnessed, heard about, or been a part of, whether it be intentional or unintentional. While there is no doubt that whistleblowing plays an integral role in maintaining integrity and accountability within the federal public service, many individuals who witness wrongdoing opt not to speak out. This could be due to a fear of reprisal, and/or the fact that historically, those who speak out when they witness wrongdoing have been ostracized and villainized for doing the right thingnbsp;

What should I do if I witness wrongdoing?

If you believe that you have witnessed a case of wrongdoing in your workplace and are not sure of how to handle it, please reach out to for advice and assistance, and we can guide you through the process of reporting wrongdoing.

Reporting wrongdoing through PSIC

According to the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (PSIC), anyone who wishes to make a disclosure has a few different options, including:

  • Telling a supervisor;
  • Telling a designated Senior Officer; or
  • Contacting the PSIC office directly by filling out their online disclosure form.

When making a disclosure to PSIC, it’s important to note that their work is intended to address wrongdoing that could seriously impact the public’s confidence in the integrity of the public service, rather than addressing matters of a personal nature. If you have any personal matters that you would like to disclose, please direct those to ACFO-ACAF Labour Relations.

What ACFO-ACAF doing to help and protect whistleblowers?

Understanding that members of the federal public service generally avoid disclosing wrongdoing due to a fear of reprisal, OGGO released a list of recommendations that they believe, if adopted, would result in stronger protection for whistleblowers. ACFO-ACAF prepared a submission and presented in front of this committee in 2017. Many of the recommendations made by ACFO-ACAF were adopted in the committee’s report recommending the amendment of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

Key recommendations from OGGO include that the Government of Canada:

  • Amend the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act to reflect each of the changes laid out on pages 36-37 of the Report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates;
  • Provide regular education and training on the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act to ensure that employees are aware of the disclosure channels and resources available to them as well as their rights;
  • Give the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner the mandate to protect whistleblowers and the authority to intervene in mishandled cases, as well as to oversee, evaluate, and introduce improvements to the internal disclosure process of the federal public service to address conflicts of interest; and
  • Appoint the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner following an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process.

ACFO-ACAF believes that the adoption of each of these recommendations would play a significant role in protecting whistleblowers within the federal government. The day that public servants can be assured that they will be protected when they decide to come forward with a case of wrongdoing will be the day that those working around the rules will begin to be held accountable for their actions.