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Expanding the Scope of the Public Interest Disclosure Act

On December 1, 2022, the Government Body Designation (Public Interest Disclosure) Regulation was amended to include an additional 39 organizations that are subject to the Public Interest Disclosure Act, S.B.C. 2018, c. 22 (the “Act”). Amongst the newly added organizations are several Crown corporations, agencies, boards, and commissions. They include BC Assessment, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corporation, British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority, British Columbia Securities Commission, and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

The Act came into force on December 1, 2019. It originally applied to staff in government ministries, independent offices of the legislature and tribunals, as well as select agencies, boards and commissions.

The Act allows current and former employees to confidentially share information about serious wrongdoing that affects the public interest. Importantly, it also provides employees who participate in investigations with protection from reprisals (see: See:

Section 7(1) of the Act sets out the following “wrongdoings” that fall within the scope of the Act:

(a) A serious act or omission that, if proven, would constitute an offence under an enactment of British Columbia or Canada;

(b) An act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of person, or to the environment, other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of an employee’s duties or functions;

(c) A serious misuse of public funds or public assets;

(d) Gross or systemic mismanagement; and

(e) Knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit a wrongdoing described in paragraphs (a) to (d).

If an employee reasonably believes that they have information that could show that a wrongdoing had been committed or is about to be committed, the employee, in good faith, may make a disclosure to the employee’s supervisor, the designated officer of the organization (as defined by the Act), or the Ombudsperson. Disclosures must be made in writing and must include particulars of the alleged wrongdoing, including a description of the events, the name of the alleged wrongdoer, and the date of the wrongdoing. Disclosures may be made anonymously. Additionally, section 16 of the Act sets out the procedure for how an employee may make a disclosure to the public if they reasonably believe that a matter constitutes an imminent risk of a substantial and specific danger to the life, health, or safety of persons or to the environment.

One of the objectives of the Act is to promote transparency between the public and the organizations subject to the Act. To this end, the Act affords disclosing employees protection from reprisals such as disciplinary measures, demotions, termination, or any measure that might adversely affect the employee’s employment or working conditions. These protections will hopefully encourage employees to come forward, without fear of reprisals, if they identify any wrongdoing within their organizations. Further, the Attorney General’s office stated that other organizations, including health authorities and educational institutions, are expected to be brought within in the scope of the Act in 2023 and 2024.

Link to Public Interest Disclosure Act, S.B.C. 2018, c. 22:


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