On July 14, 2016, the Ontario Security Commission (OSC) created the Office of the Whistleblower. The aim of this program is to ensure that corporations remain compliant with their regulatory obligations by punishing companies found guilty of misconduct. Such transgressions may include:
- Violations of security law
- Violations of financial and disclosure requirements
- Insider trading
- Market manipulation
Protection For Informers
The program was created to protect those individuals who provide information against corporations’ transgressions. The OSC offers up to $5 million in compensation to those who offer information that can lead to enforcement action against wrongdoers.
Protection For Employees
The program also protects employees who have provided information against their own companies. The government office added anti-reprisal provisions to the Securities Act. This enables the OSC to hold responsible employers who attempt to silence a whistleblower or try to retaliate against them.
Whistleblowers are able to make reports anonymously. The OSC has also stated that it will make all reasonable efforts to safeguard the identity of whistleblowers. There is a procedure that whistleblowers must heed to remain anonymous. They must:
- Be represented by a lawyer
- Complete the whistleblower submission form
- Provide the form to his or her lawyer
- The lawyer must certify he or she received the form and submit it on behalf of the whistleblower
Companies looking to protect themselves from being subjects of whistleblowing should ensure to review confidentiality agreements and codes of conduct. They should also ensure that they are in compliance with federal and provincial corporate governance rules at all times.
Failing to comply with compliance requirements can expose a business to liability and large fines. In these cases, it is prudent to seek the advice of a lawyer who can advise about regulatory compliance.