New program prevents civil liabilities, reprisals, against whistle-blowers
The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) has recently launched a program to provide enhanced protections for whistle-blowers.
The new whistle-blower program aims to protect whistle-blowers from any harm associated with disclosing information related to misconduct in sectors regulated by FSRA.
“Whistle-blowers are a valuable source of information, and this program will assist individuals and entities who want to come forward by helping determine who qualifies as a whistle-blower and who will receive protection,” FSRA said.
An individual or entity, to be eligible under the new program, should disclose to FSRA, in good faith, information related to misconduct in a regulated sector subject to the following laws:
- Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 2020;
- Financial Professionals Title Protections Act, 2019;
- Insurance Act;
- Loan and Trust Corporations Act;
- Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006;
- Pension Benefits Act;
- Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, 2015.
According to FSRA, good faith means that an individual or entity discloses information without any intention of defrauding or taking advantage of FSRA or another party.
Moreover, an individual or entity must request that their identity as a whistle‑blower be kept confidential, and FSRA should provide them with a written assurance of confidentiality.
The new program protects whistle-blowers from civil liability and reprisals if they meet these criteria. These reprisals include terminating, demoting, disciplining, penalizing, intimidating or threatening to do any of these regarding a whistle-blower’s employment, contract, position, or office.
Those who become subject to a reprisal may file a complaint to be decided by an arbitrator or initiate a civil lawsuit before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
In addition, the new program penalizes an individual or entity participating in reprisals against a whistle-blower. Individuals, such as officer, director, or members of a directing body, may be fined up to $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year. Corporations can be fined up to $1,000,000.