Case Summaries 2019-2020


Alleged mismanagement of government funding (Referral)

A discloser alleged that a ministry employee approved funding to a stakeholder who was not eligible to receive it and that an employee from the same ministry had approved funding for a stakeholder who had failed to comply with some of the application requirements. The deputy minister investigated the allegations and determined that they were unfounded.

Regarding the first allegation, the deputy determined that the government funding was provided in accordance with internal policies and procedures. As for the second allegation, the evidence indicated that the manner in which funding was distributed did not contravene any policies or procedures. The Commissioner was satisfied with the investigation and the conclusions reached and closed his file on the matter.

Alleged mismanagement of overtime claims (Investigation)

It was alleged that a public servant engaged in fraud by claiming excessive overtime, and that a supervisor engaged in gross mismanagement by approving the excessive overtime claims. The Commissioner referred the matter for investigation to the deputy minister, who found that there was no wrongdoing. The Commissioner was not satisfied with the thoroughness of the investigation and, accordingly, started investigating the matter himself. The Commissioner concluded that the evidence did not support the allegation that the overtime claims were fraudulent, and thus found that the allegations of wrongdoing against the public servants had not been substantiated.

Alleged preferential treatment in hiring (Referral)

It was alleged that an agency employee breached the Conflict of Interest Rules by hiring a friend, who was also a former colleague, without a job competition. The matter was referred to a senior public servant at the agency, who investigated the allegation and found that the hiring was permissible under the Conflict of Interest Rules and the agency’s rules. Additionally, the relationship between the employee and the new hire was professional in nature, not personal, and the employee had been transparent with her manager about their work history. While no wrongdoing was found, the senior official noted that some aspects of the hiring process could be improved, including formalizing a process for declaring conflicts of interests in the hiring process. The Commissioner was satisfied with the investigation and closed the file.

Alleged improper use of government resources for self-benefit (Referral)

A discloser alleged that a ministry employee was using their position as a public servant to benefit themselves by improperly using government premises, which is a breach of the Conflict of Interest Rules. The Commissioner referred the matter to the deputy minister to investigate. The investigation substantiated the allegation and revealed that, in fact, this was an ongoing practice by several public servants in that workplace. The deputy minister directed that this practice be discontinued. The Commissioner was satisfied with the investigation and the deputy minister’s proposed course of action and closed the file.

Alleged preferential treatment of a stakeholder for self-benefit (Investigation)

A discloser alleged that a former public servant assisted in securing a grant for an organization where she subsequently became employed. This was a potential breach of the Conflict of Interest Rules and gross mismanagement in the work of the public service. The former public servant had worked in a minister’s office. The Commissioner investigated the matter and determined that no wrongdoing occurred. He noted that the former public servant had entered into employment discussions with the organization after the grant was secured. She was also not substantially involved in the process by which the grant was awarded. There was no evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement. However, the former public servant had not sought advice from the Commissioner, as her Ethics Executive, when she left the public service. The Commissioner was concerned that she had little understanding of her ethical obligations as a public servant. In his report to the appropriate government officials, the Commissioner, therefore, emphasized the importance of ensuring that staff in ministers’ offices are made aware of their ethical responsibilities.

Alleged breach of a regulation related to policy development (Investigation)

A discloser alleged that two ministry employees engaged in gross mismanagement, saying that they approved a new policy that breached a regulation. The discloser also alleged that they failed to consult as required before approving the policy. The Commissioner investigated the matter and determined that the ministry employees had not engaged in gross mismanagement. The investigation showed that the employees approved a policy that adopted a new interpretation of a regulation; however, the employees had consulted with legal and policy staff before doing so. They followed the ministry guidelines and approval process for developing policy. The Commissioner was satisfied that there was no wrongdoing and closed the file.