Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
Status of Legislation - First Reading Bill
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Civil Service Accountability Act +

Legislature :
Session :
Bill No. :
Member :
Mr. Burke
First Reading :
Second Reading :
Committee of the Whole :
Amended :
Third Reading :
Royal Assent :
Download PDF :
Bill 31

Text of Bill :

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, enacts as follows:

1                           In this Act,

"civil service" means all positions in the public service of the Province of New Brunswick to which persons are employed; (fonction publique)

"employee" means a person employed in the public service of the Province of New Brunswick whose employment may or may not be of a continuous nature; (employé)

"government wrong-doing" means

(a)               the unreasonable suppression of information of which public awareness and discussion would be in the public interest,

(b)               the dissemination by a government official of statements which that official knows, or ought to know, are false,

(c)               mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, a danger to health or safety or doing grave damage to the natural environment,

(d)               the misleading of the Legislative Assembly or any officer of the Legislative Assembly,

(e)               a violation of a law, rule or regulation; (méfait du gouvernement)

"information" means information, however recorded, whether in printed form, on film, by electronic means or otherwise; (information)

"Minister" means a member of the Executive Council and, in the case of a board, commission, foundation, agency, association or other body of persons not reporting directly to a Minister in respect to its day-to-day operations, means the chief executive officer; (ministre)

"Ombudsman" means the Ombudsman appointed pursuant to the Ombudsman Act; (Ombudsman)

"public information" means any information for which could not, upon application, be withheld under the Right to Information Act. (informations publiques)

2                           The purpose of this Act is

(a)               to provide for the disclosure of information by employees who reasonably believe that this information evidences government wrong-doing;

(b)               to expand the role of the Ombudsman to serve as a vehicle for employees to disclose government wrong-doing; and

(c)               to protect from employment reprisals employees who internally disclose information that the employee reasonably believes evidences government wrong-doing.

3                           No employment reprisal shall be taken against an employee because the employee, pursuant to this Act, discloses information to the Ombudsman concerning a policy or practice of the government or a governmental agency.

4                           An employee who has information which the employee reasonably believes evidences government wrong-doing may, in confidence, inform the Ombudsman of the existence of said information.

5                           The Ombudsman may refuse to investigate the existence of information where

(a)               there is no reasonable basis to believe that the information is true;

(b)               the employee is making claims which are frivolous or vexatious;

(c)               there is a no prima facie reason for public disclosure of the information; or

(d)               the public interest in disclosure is not more than minimal.

6(1)                   Where an employee discloses information to the Ombudsman pursuant to section 4, the Ombudsman shall

(a)               conduct an investigation of the information disclosed by the employee and any related matters;

(b)               not reveal, in any way, shape or form, the name of the employee who has revealed such information unless ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction, or unless the employee has consented; and

(c)               within 30 days submit a written report to the Deputy Minister of the relevant department or head of the relevant government agency, commission, committee or department, setting forth the findings of the investigation.

6(2)                   A report required pursuant to subsection (1) shall include

(a)               a summary of the information that initiated the investigation;

(b)               a description of the conduct of the investigation;

(c)               a summary of the evidence obtained from the investigation;

(d)               a listing of any violation or apparent violation of any law, rule or regulation, mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, danger to public health or safety, grave damage to the natural environment or other wrong-doing that was discovered in the course of the investigation; and

(e)               a description of the corrective action which needs to be taken.

7(1)                   The Ombudsman may make available to the public files containing any information disclosed to the Ombudsman pursuant to section 4 and any report by the Ombudsman pursuant to section 6 except when

(a)               in the opinion of the Ombudsman the public interest in obtaining access to the file is minimal;

(b)               in the opinion of the Ombudsman there is a compelling reason in the public interest to withhold some or all of the information; or

(c)               the release of the information may prejudice an innocent third party.

7(2)                   The Ombudsman may make any information under subsection (1) publicly available through any means deemed by the Ombudsman to be in the public interest.

8                           Where any government official refuses to disclose relevant information to the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman shall forthwith make an application to a court of competent jurisdiction for an order that the information be disclosed to the Ombudsman.

9(1)                   The office of the Ombudsman shall arrange legal counsel for an employee who

(a)               seeks advice relating to the rights and obligations of employees who disclose information to the Ombudsman or to any other person referred to in this Act;

(b)               discloses information referred to in this Act to the Ombudsman.

9(2)                   Except on a trial for perjury committed by an employee who has disclosed information, evidence given by any employee disclosing information under this Act before the Ombudsman is not admissible against the employee in any court or in any proceedings of a judicial nature, unless ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

9(3)                   No action for discovery lies against the Ombudsman.

10(1)               Where an employee alleges that a Minister or a head of a department or an agency has taken an employment reprisal as a result of the employee disclosing information pursuant to this Act, the employee may grieve the matter in accordance with the grievance procedures provided in the collective agreement or, if the employee is not represented, may bring a complaint before the Labour and Employment Board.

10(2)               If an employee who may bring a complaint under this Act before the Labour and Employment Board brings such a complaint, the Board may

(a)               determine if there has been employment reprisal against the employee in violation of this Act; and

(b)               order such remedies as the Board may see fit.

11                        The Ombudsman shall, within such time as is reasonably practicable after the end of each year, prepare and submit to the Legislative Assembly, a report concerning the activities of the Ombudsman relating to this Act in the preceding year, which shall include a summary of all investigations conducted pursuant to subsection 6(1).

12                        This Act or any provision of it comes into force on a day or days to fixed by proclamation.


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