As of April 1, more public employees in British Columbia (B.C.) are protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA). The expansion of the law is part of a phased approach to implement PIDA and bring more agencies and organizations under its rules.
B.C. passed PIDA in 2018, and the law came into effect on December 1, 2019. The law “allows employees to confidentially share information about a serious wrongdoing that affects the public interest with designated officers within their organizations or to the Office of the Ombudsperson,” the April 1 press release states. PIDA also offers “protection to employees who participate in PIDA investigations from reprisals, such as demotion, termination or other measures that adversely affect the employee’s work conditions. It also ensures employees under investigation are treated fairly,” a prior press release states.
Currently, “staff in government ministries and independent officers of the legislature” are protected by PIDA. “Bringing other public-sector organizations, such as agencies, boards and commissions, under PIDA will more closely align B.C. with other jurisdictions in Canada,” according to the most recent press release.
In the coming years, other organizations and bodies will be looped into PIDA: “More agencies, boards and commissions will be brought under PIDA in December 2022, alongside Crown corporations. Recognizing the impacts of the pandemic on certain sectors, other organizations will follow in 2023 and 2024, including health authorities and the education sector.”
The first of B.C.’s “agencies, boards, tribunals and commissions” to be brought under PIDA include the British Columbia Safety Authority, Employment Standards Tribunal, Forest Practices Board, Human Rights Tribunal, and the Oil and Gas Commission. The full list can be found on this page.
“This program is essential for me to have increased confidence that if people see wrongdoing or violation of the public service code, they have an avenue to bring that forward so we can deal with it from a political level,” B.C. Attorney General David Eby said in an interview. On the phased approach of bringing more agencies and organizations under PIDA, Eby said: “The benefit of doing it in phases like this is to make sure the training and communications are in place, so these complaints are handled properly and the tools are in place for the ombudsperson to do proper investigations.”