Overview of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act

The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) gives federal public sector employees and others a secure and confidential process for disclosing serious wrongdoing in the workplace, as well as protection from acts of reprisal. It is part of the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to promoting ethical practices in the public sector.

What is wrongdoing under the PSDPA?

Wrongdoing relates to serious violations that go against the public interest, such as:

  • violating any Act of Parliament or any Act of the legislatures of the provinces;
  • misusing public funds or public assets;
  • gross mismanagement in the public sector;
  • doing something—or failing to do something—that creates a substantial and specific danger to the health, safety or life of persons or to the environment;
  • seriously breaching the Treasury Board or your organization's code of conduct; or
  • knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit a wrongdoing set out above.

Who is covered by the PSDPA?

The PSDPA covers all employees in federal departments and agencies, most Crown corporations and the RCMP.

The PSDPA also provides protection for people outside the public sector (such as external contractors) when they provide information about wrongdoing in, or related to, the federal public sector.

For the purposes of the Act, the definition of "Public Sector" does not include the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). The Act does require that (under section 52) these organizations must establish procedures applicable to their organization for the disclosure of wrongdoing, including the protection of persons who disclose wrongdoing, deemed comparable by the Treasury Board to those established under the PSDPA.

How do I report a wrongdoing?

Employees have a choice of three secure and confidential channels for making a protected disclosure. Within their organization, employees may make a protected disclosure to their supervisor or their organization's designated Senior Officer for Disclosure. To access this process, employees should refer to their organization's own internal disclosure procedures.

Employees may also make a protected disclosure to the independent Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, as may employees whose organization does not have a Senior Officer for Disclosure.

Employees, or employees whose organization does not have a Senior Officer for Disclosure, do not have to use the internal disclosure process in their organization before going to the Integrity Commissioner.

How am I protected from acts of reprisal?

For starters, the disclosure process is confidential so your identity is protected in accordance with the Act.

In addition, if you are the subject of an act of reprisal, you can make a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner within 60 days. This can lead to a settlement or corrective action ordered by a special tribunal, such as compensation or disciplinary action against the guilty parties.

Acts of reprisal include any disciplinary measures such as demotion, termination of employment and any other action or threat that adversely affects employment or working conditions.

What happens if wrongdoing is found?

If wrongdoing is found as a result of an investigation, a report with recommendations is provided to the chief executive of your organization (e.g. the Deputy Minister) who has the authority to take appropriate action, including disciplinary measures such as suspensions, demotions or termination of employment. Other sanctions may apply as required by law.

For internal disclosures, the chief executive must provide public access to information describing the wrongdoing and any corrective action taken. The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner must also report to Parliament within 60 days of finding a wrongdoing.

For more information

Page details

Date modified: