The OSC will make all reasonable efforts to protect the identities of whistleblowers. Under the Ontario Securities Act, the OSC may take enforcement action against employers who take reprisals against whistleblowers. Whistleblowers can choose to report anonymously if they are represented by a lawyer.
Whistleblower protections apply even if the information provided to the OSC does not result in enforcement action and/or does not meet the criteria for an award.
The OSC will make all reasonable efforts to protect the identities of whistleblowers.
- The OSC will not share a whistleblower's identity, or information that could reasonably be expected to reveal the whistleblower's identity, with another regulator or law enforcement agency without the whistleblower's explicit consent.
- If our Staff attempt to contact a whistleblower for further information, they will not leave a voicemail message unless the voicemail greeting clearly indicates that the phone number belongs to the whistleblower.
Examples of situations where a whistleblower's identity may be revealed
While the OSC will make all reasonable efforts to protect the identities of whistleblowers, there are some circumstances where the identity of a whistleblower may be disclosed. For example:
- The information provided by a whistleblower may be used as evidence in OSC tribunal proceedings or disclosed where required by law. The OSC will make all reasonable efforts to protect the whistleblower's identity, unless its disclosure is necessary to permit a respondent or defendant to respond to allegations or to prepare their defence.
- If a whistleblower consents to the OSC sharing their information with other regulatory authorities, exchanges, or law enforcement agencies, the OSC cannot guarantee that these third-party organizations will keep the whistleblower's identity confidential.
It is an offence under the Ontario Securities Act to take reprisal against an employee who reports or plans to report potential violation(s) of securities law.
In addition to it being a breach of the Ontario Securities Act, an employee who has faced reprisal may also seek certain civil remedies through the court system if arbitration under a collective agreement is not available to them. The onus will be on the company to prove it did not take a reprisal against an employee. Possible remedies include the employee’s reinstatement and the payment of two times the amount of lost pay.
The Ontario Securities Act also voids certain contractual provisions between employers and employees designed to silence whistleblowers from reporting securities related misconduct.
These provisions apply regardless of whether misconduct is reported internally to the employer, to the OSC, to a recognized self-regulatory organization like the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada or the Mutual Fund Dealers Association, or to a law enforcement agency.
Definition of a reprisal
A reprisal is any measure taken against an employee that "adversely affects" their employment. It includes, among other things, disciplining, demoting or suspending the employee, or threatening to do so, terminating or threatening to terminate them, intimidating them and imposing or threatening to impose a penalty relating to their employment.
The OSC may take enforcement action against employers who take reprisal against whistleblowers, whether they report misconduct internally, to the OSC, or to another regulatory body referred to above.
Anonymous submissions (optional)
If a whistleblower chooses to submit the Whistleblower Submission Form anonymously through their lawyer:
- The whistleblower must print the Whistleblower Submission Form, and provide a completed and signed copy to their lawyer to retain.
- The whistleblower's lawyer must then complete and submit a new report online or by mail on their client's behalf, omitting any information that may identify their client.
- The whistleblower's lawyer must read and sign a lawyer certification, certifying, among other things, that the lawyer has been provided with a completed Whistleblower Submission Form by the whistleblower.
- The OSC may contact the whistleblower's lawyer if additional information is required beyond the initial submission.
Anonymous whistleblowers are still eligible to receive a possible reward, however, the whistleblower will have to disclose their identity to the OSC and may have to provide additional information to enable the OSC to verify that the whistleblower meets the eligibility criteria, before any award can be made.
The information provided on this page is intended to provide a general summary of certain key features of the OSC Whistleblower Program. It does not purport to be a complete or comprehensive discussion of all aspects of the Whistleblower Program, is not legal or other professional advice, and should not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for legal or other professional advice. For detailed information about the Program, including eligibility requirements and certain limitations that apply, we recommend that you read the full text of the official OSC Whistleblower Policy: OSC Policy 15-601 - Whistleblower Program.