On July 16, 2016, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) announced the launch of its Office of the Whistleblower. This is the first paid whistleblower program by a securities regulator in Canada. Subject to eligibility requirements, whistleblowers could receive an award of between 5% and 15% of the total sanctions imposed and/or voluntary payments made in an administrative proceeding brought as a result of information from a whistleblower. The total of the sanctions and/or voluntary payments must exceed CA$1 million. The maximum award to a whistleblower is CA$5 million.

Certain individuals may be ineligible for an award. For example, a lawyer or auditor may be ineligible if the lawyer or auditor obtained information in connection with providing legal services or an internal audit or external assurance mandate and the disclosure would violate professional obligations. Other examples of ineligible individuals include directors, officers and Chief Compliance Officers of an entity that is the subject of the whistleblower submission.

There is no requirement that whistleblowers report violations through internal compliance programs (although the OSC encourages internal reporting). Although the OSC will endeavour to keep the identity of the whistleblower confidential, including in response to an access to information requires, the OSC has been careful not to guarantee confidentiality and the OSC will require verification of identity prior to payment in order to ensure the whistleblower is not ineligible. The Ontario Securities Act (s. 121.5) prohibits reprisals by an employer against an employee.

For more information, see OSC Policy 15-601 Whistleblower Program.

For more information, visit our Privacy and Data Security blog at www.datagovernancelaw.com

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