P2 – Public Interest Disclosure Protection Procedures

1.0 Authority

1.1

Red River College has issued Policy P2 directing the President and Chief Executive Officer to develop the following procedures and the Vice President Finance and Administration to administer and oversee these Procedures as the College’s Designated Officer.

2.0 Purpose

2.1

Red River College is committed to compliance with the Public Interest Disclosures Act and recognizes that employees are often in the best position to recognize Wrongdoing as defined in PIDA. These procedures establish the ways that employees can make Disclosures and how such Disclosures will be addressed by the College.

2.2

These Procedures are not intended to replace policies and procedures already in place to address issues other than Wrongdoing under PIDA or to replace or modify individual rights guaranteed by law, contract or codes of professional ethics.

2.3

All employees are encouraged to use their typical reporting relationships, or other available avenues of communication regarding concerns other than violations of PIDA, such as speaking to managers, union representatives, or human resources consultants.

2.4

These Procedures do not apply to matters relating to employee performance or discipline related to performance, which are covered by collective agreements or performance management practices.

3.0 Definitions

3.1

PIDA – The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (“PIDA”).

3.2

Designated Officer – the Act requires every chief executive to designate a senior official to be the Designated Officer for the purpose of this Act, to receive and deal with disclosures by employees. The Designated Officer at Red River College is the Vice President – Finance and Administration.

3.3

Person – An employee or a student who makes a disclosure.

3.4

Reprisal – Reprisal is any of the following measures taken against a Person, or any third party, because of having, in good faith, sought advice about making a disclosure, made a disclosure, or co-operated in an investigation:

  1. a disciplinary measure;
  2. an effect on academic evaluation;
  3. a demotion;
  4. termination of employment or contract;
  5. any measure that adversely affects his or her employment, learning or working conditions; or
  6. a threat to take any of the measures referred to in clauses (a) to (e).

3.5

Wrongdoing – The Act defines Wrongdoing in or relating to the public service as:

  1. an act or omission constituting an offence under an Act of the Legislature or the Parliament of Canada, or a regulation made under an Act;
  2. an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of persons, or the environment, other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of the duties or functions of an employee;
  3. gross mismanagement, including of public funds or a public asset; or
  4. knowingly directing or counseling a person to commit a wrongdoing described in clauses (a) to (c).

This Policy is not intended to apply to other types of disclosures, and is not intended as a dispute resolution mechanism to replace grievances, appeal hearings, and other administrative processes.

For greater certainty, “Wrongdoing” does not include a disagreement about legitimate policy decisions, business decisions, or administrative actions, over which reasonable people may disagree. The policy is not intended to be used to object to or challenge such decisions or actions. This policy also not apply to matters relating to employee performance or discipline related to performance, which are covered by collective agreements or performance management practices. This Policy is not intended to address concerns about bullying, harassment or discrimination which are investigated by College under collective agreements or the Respectful Workplace and Learning Environment Policy.

4.0 Making a Disclosure in Writing

4.1

A disclosure of Wrongdoing must be made in writing by completing the pdf form or web form and submitting it either electronically or in hard copy to the College’s Designated Officer. Disclosures must include the following information, where known:

  1. a description of the Wrongdoing;
  2. the name of the person(s) alleged to have committed or is about to commit the Wrongdoing;
  3. the date of the Wrongdoing; and
  4. whether the Wrongdoing has already been disclosed and a response received.

4.2

Anonymous disclosures are more difficult to investigate, but will be assessed and pursued where possible in accordance with this Procedure.

4.3

The written disclosure can be made to any of:

  1. in the case of an employee:
    1. the employee’s Supervisor;
    2. The Designated Officer; or
    3. the office of the Manitoba Ombudsman.
  2. in the case of a student:
    1. the Designated Officer; or
    2. the office of the Manitoba Ombudsman.
  3. in the case of any other party, such as a third party contractor, visitor or member of the public who is not an employee or a student:
    1. the office of the Manitoba Ombudsman.

4.4

Disclosures shall normally be made within thirty (30) working days of the Disclosing Party becoming aware of the circumstances. Disclosures must be made as soon as possible for evidentiary reasons.

5.0 Disclosure and File Maintenance

5.1

Upon receipt, each disclosure will be marked to show the date of receipt.

5.2

Each disclosure must be maintained in a separate file.

5.3

Disclosure files will be treated as strictly confidential, maintained in a secure manner and location, and protected from unauthorized access.

5.4

All written information obtained as a result of the receipt of the disclosure, review of the disclosure, or the investigation of the alleged Wrongdoing must be included in the disclosure file. All pertinent information obtained verbally must be documented in writing in the disclosure file and dated and signed by the person receiving the information.

6.0 Confidentiality

6.1

Care must be taken at all times to protect the identity of the Disclosing Party, any witnesses, and the alleged wrongdoer. Information collected during the disclosure process, including the identity of persons involved, must be kept confidential to the fullest extent possible. Should it become necessary for the Designated Officer to disclose an individual’s identity to test the credibility of any allegation, the individuals involved shall be informed.

7.0 Process Following a Disclosure

7.1 Responsibilities upon Receipt

  1. The Individual that receives a Disclosure from a Person under this Procedure, including a Supervisor or the Designated Officer, must arrange to have a private discussion with the Person within ten (10) working days of receiving the disclosure. The following information will be shared with the Person:
    1. all information regarding their identity as a disclosure will be protected to the fullest extent possible; and
    2. the Person has a responsibility to protect information related to the disclosure and must protect the identity of the alleged wrongdoer to ensure the integrity of the process.
  2. Where the Disclosure is made to a supervisor, that individual will then notify the Designated Officer and transfer the Disclosure in a confidential manner for further review and handling.

7.2 Responsibilities of the Designated Officer:

  1. When a disclosure is received, the Designated Officer will review the Disclosure to determine whether the Disclosure meets the following criteria:
    1. The Disclosure was made in good faith, and is not frivolous or vexatious;
    2. The Disclosure falls within the categories of Wrongdoing covered by the Act;
    3. The Person has a reasonable belief that the information could show that a Wrongdoing has been or is about to be committed.
  2. A Disclosure must be reviewed promptly to determine if the matter disclosed represents a Wrongdoing as defined in the Act and to determine the appropriate action to be taken. Every effort will be made to complete the review within thirty (30) working days from the initial receipt of disclosure.
  3. Disclosures which are determined by the Designated Officer to be outside the scope of this Policy and related procedures will be resolved by reference to other College policies or procedures.
  4. The Designated Officer may decide not to investigate a disclosure, or may cease an investigation, if they are of the opinion that:
    1. the subject matter of the disclosure could more appropriately be dealt with, initially or completely, according to a procedure provided for under another Act or Policy and associated procedures;
    2. the disclosure is frivolous or vexatious, or has not been made in good faith;
    3. so much time has elapsed between the date, when the subject matter of the disclosure arose and the date when the disclosure was made that investigating it would not serve a useful purpose;
    4. the disclosure relates to a matter that results from a decision‐making process on a public policy or operational issue;
    5. the disclosure does not provide adequate particulars about the wrongdoing as required by section 12 of PIDA;
    6. the disclosure relates to a matter that could more appropriately be dealt with according to the procedures under a collective agreement or employment agreement;
    7. if there is another valid reason for not investigating the disclosure.
  5. If the Designated Officer finds an investigation is not warranted, the reason for this determination and any action that has been taken is to be documented in writing in the disclosure file. The disclosing Person and the College President/Chief Executive Officer will be advised promptly that the review of the disclosure has been concluded.

8.0 Investigations

8.1

Investigations must be managed by the Designated Officer, with appropriate assistance as required.

8.2

Investigations will be conducted promptly and in a confidential manner, with due regard for the protection of the identity of all individuals involved.

8.3

The investigation will adhere to all principles of procedural fairness and natural justice. In particular, the investigation shall be conducted as follows:

  1. the investigation will be conducted expeditiously and confidentially
  2. all persons involved in the investigation will be treated fairly and impartially;
  3. all persons affected by the allegations will be informed of the facts alleged and given a full opportunity to respond;
  4. a summary of the findings of the investigation will be conveyed to all persons affected;
  5. if a Wrongdoing is confirmed, the appropriate remedial actions or disciplinary measures shall be recommended.

8.4

The Designated Officer may conduct the investigation they deem fit, having regard to the nature of the particular disclosure and the seriousness of the issues involved. Investigations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Interviewing relevant witnesses;
  2. Reviewing documents;
  3. Examining physical evidence;
  4. Accessing electronic systems.

8.5

The Designated Officer will document the outcome of the investigation in the disclosure file. If the investigation results in a finding of Wrongdoing, the disclosure file will include any recommendations of corrective actions to be taken. If the investigation results in a finding that no Wrongdoing has occurred, the file will include reasons why no corrective action was recommended or taken.

8.6

An employee who commits a Wrongdoing is subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

9.0 Advising of Outcome of an Investigation

9.1

The Designated Officer will inform the disclosing Person, the alleged wrongdoer and the College President/Chief Executive Officer of the outcome of an investigation within 60 days. The Designated Officer must include a note in the disclosure file, signed and dated, confirming this communication has occurred.

10.0 Withdrawal of a Disclosure

10.1

If, after submitting a disclosure, the disclosing Person wishes to withdraw the disclosure, the Designated Officer must request that the disclosing Person withdraw the disclosure in writing. Upon receipt of the withdrawal notice, the Designated Officer may conclude the investigation or review the disclosed concern. Even where a Person indicates that he or she wishes to withdraw a Disclosure (including for fear of Reprisal or being identified), the Designated Officer may determine that the issue is important enough that an investigation must continue.

10.2

In the event that a disclosure is withdrawn, the Designated Officer must determine whether any action regarding the subject matter of the disclosure needs to be taken. This action is independent of the disclosure process, and is to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

11.0 Protection from Reprisal

11.1

There will be no Reprisal against a Person or any third party if the Person or third party has, in good faith:

  1. sought advice about making a disclosure from their Supervisor, the Designated Officer, or the Manitoba Ombudsman;
  2. made a disclosure; or
  3. co-operated in an investigation under PIDA.

11.2

If a Person or third party believes that there has been a reprisal due to his disclosure of Wrongdoing, they may seek redress by filing a written complaint with the office of the Manitoba Ombudsman.

11.3

If a disclosure is deemed to have been frivolous, malicious or made in bad faith, a Person may be subject to disciplinary action.

12.0 College Annual Report

12.1

In accordance with paragraph 5 of the Policy, the College will report annually on the Disclosures made at the College. The report will include the following information:

  1. the number of disclosures received, acted on and not acted on;
  2. the number of investigations commenced as a result of a disclosure;
  3. in the case of an investigation that results in a finding of wrongdoing,
    1. a description of the Wrongdoing
    2. any recommendations or corrective actions taken in relation to the Wrongdoing; or
    3. the reasons why no corrective action was taken.