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Whistleblower protection laws

Region: Ontario Answer # 7609

Whistleblowing refers to an employee reporting corporate wrongdoing that is happening in their place of work. This includes such things as fraud, corruption, or other unethical practices. To be considered “whistleblowing”, it must involve something that poses a risk to the company or to a group of people, especially the general public. Whistleblowing does not refer to reporting events that only affect the individual making the report, such as workplace disputes (e.g. wage disputes or overtime issues), personal issues (e.g. harassment), or complaints about management.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

Whistleblower protection laws

Whistleblower protection laws in Canada are aimed at safeguarding individuals who disclose these wrongdoings from facing negative consequences.

Whistleblower protection is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to uncover and prevent fraudulent activities that may harm the public interest. By providing a safe and secure reporting mechanism, these laws enable employees to disclose vital information that can lead to the detection and prevention of wrongdoing.

Secondly, whistleblower protection laws contribute to building a culture of transparency and accountability within organizations. When employees feel protected and supported, they are more likely to come forward with information that can help identify and address issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA)

At the federal level, Canada has implemented the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) to provide a comprehensive framework for whistleblower protection. The Act applies to most federal public sector employees, including government departments and agencies, parent Crown corporations, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other federal public sector bodies. The PSDPA establishes mechanisms for reporting wrongdoing, protects whistleblowers from reprisals, and ensures investigations are conducted in a fair and impartial manner.

Under the PSDPA, federal employees who disclose wrongdoing are protected from disciplinary measures such as demotion or termination of employment, harassment, or any form of retaliation. The Act also establishes the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, which oversees the disclosure process and investigates allegations of reprisals.

Criminal Code

There are also protection provisions for whistleblowers under section 425.1 of the Criminal Code. Under this section, it is illegal for an employer to threaten an employee with negative repercussions in an effort to prevent them from providing law enforcement with information about their employer’s offence. Specifically,

Threats and retaliation against employees

  • 1(1) No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer or in a position of authority in respect of an employee of the employer shall take a disciplinary measure against, demote, terminate or otherwise adversely affect the employment of such an employee, or threaten to do so,
    • (a)with the intent to compel the employee to abstain from providing information to a person whose duties include the enforcement of federal or provincial law, respecting an offence that the employee believes has been or is being committed contrary to this or any other federal or provincial Act or regulation by the employer or an officer or employee of the employer or, if the employer is a corporation, by one or more of its directors; or
    • (b)with the intent to retaliate against the employee because the employee has provided information referred to in paragraph (a) to a person whose duties include the enforcement of federal or provincial law.


(2) Any one who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of

  • (a)an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
  • (b)an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Provincial laws

While the federal government has established whistleblower protection laws, individual provinces in Canada also have legislation in place. These provincial laws complement the federal framework and provide additional protection to employees working in specific sectors or industries.

The Public Service of Ontario Act (“PSA”) protects public sector employees In Ontario from whistleblowing-related retaliation. The Ontario Securities Act provides protections to whistleblower employees who report or plan to report violations of the legislation, such as illegal insider trading, fraud, and misleading corporate disclosure or financial statements.

In addition, whistleblower programs in Canada may offer rewards and incentives to encourage individuals to come forward with valuable information. These rewards can serve as a powerful motivator for employees to disclose wrongdoing voluntarily. The criteria for eligibility and the amount of rewards vary depending on the nature and significance of the information provided. The Ontario Securities Commission Whistleblower Program accepts tips on possible violations of Ontario securities law, offers protection for individuals who provide information, and offers a reward of up to $5 million for tips that lead to enforcement action.

It is important for organizations to be aware of the specific whistleblower protection laws in the provinces where they operate. By understanding the legal requirements and obligations, organizations can ensure they have the necessary mechanisms in place to support whistleblowers and comply with the law.

Get help

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our preferred criminal defence expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation at 416-938-5858 .

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