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GP 3 - Safe Disclosure - Whistleblower Protocol

Policy Number: GP 3 Effective Date: September 2022
Last Review Date: November 2022 Next Review Date: September 2023
Review Frequency: Annually Related Supporting Documents:
    1. Safe Disclosure “Whistleblowing”

      1.1. The Governing Council of the College is dedicated to the principles of strong corporate governance, combined with the highest ethical standards in all of its activities. Our reputation for honesty and integrity is reflected in the way we conduct our business. We are committed to acting immediately on any reported breaches of conduct. We fully expect and believe that all of our Council members, Committee Members, Contract Investigation Officers, Employees, Contract Employees and
      registrants share this commitment.

      1.2. Through the College’s Safe Disclosure – Whistleblower Protocol (Protocol) the College aims to protect the integrity of our organization and protect any individual(s) acting to support that aim by exposing any breach of conduct within the College. Because of the involvement of employees in the College’s operations, they are often in the best position to observe and report any abuse of trust. In keeping with the College’s commitment to accountability and transparency, this Protocol provides
      protection for such “whistleblowers” by enabling safe disclosure and prohibiting reprisals against them.

      1.3. With this Protocol, we seek to support an organizational environment where any individual(s) who observes or has knowledge of a possible abuse of authority, misrepresentation of information or misappropriation of assets in any form is empowered to identify, question, and report such events. Employees are also encouraged to report circumstances that may put the organization at risk for such
      behaviour (e.g., lack of appropriate oversight mechanism; absence of checks and balances, etc.),

      1.4. Any person who makes such a report, in good faith, or participates in an investigation, will be protected from any retribution or reprisal through this Protocol.

    2. Intent of Protocol  

      The Protocol is designed as a control to further safeguard the integrity of the College, including its financial reporting. The Protocol encourages and requires employees and members of Council to question and/or report concerns about the College’s integrity. This can be done through a number of channels on an anonymous and/or confidential basis, as outlined under section 6 below

    3. Scope  

      This Protocol applies to all of our Council members, Committee Members, Contract Investigation Officers, Employees and Contract Employees. The responsibility to question and/or report breaches of conduct, financial and/or reporting concerns, and the protections provided to those who do so, is a shared responsibility and right.

    4. Reporting Concerns  

      4.1. Employees and Council members have a responsibility to question and/or report concerns about the integrity of conduct, financial reporting or any observed consequences of good faith reporting.

      4.2. Concerns about the breaches of conduct may include discrimination, harassment, abuse of authority, bullying, breach of trust, confidentiality, fiduciary duty.

      4.3. Concerns about the integrity of financial reporting may include:

      4.3.1. Accounting and Auditing Concerns – examples include falsification or destruction of business or financial records; misrepresentation or suppression of financial information; non-adherence to internal financial reporting policy/controls, including management over-ride; and auditor independence concerns.

      4.3.2. Suspected Fraudulent Activity – examples include misdirecting funds, unlawful or improper payments and insider trading of the College’s investments. 

      4.4. It is important that individual(s) feel safe to ask questions about or report concerns. Any individual who witnesses or experiences retaliatory behaviour in response to such inquiries, or to the disclosure of concerns is encouraged to report this behaviour according to the related policy: Human Resources Policy 9.0, Employee Incident Resolution Process.

    5. Initial Action on Identified Concerns  

      If any individual is uncertain that a wrongful act has occurred or is concerned that the potential for such an act exists, they are encouraged to have a discussion with either their immediate supervisor, their supervisor’s supervisor, the CEO & Registrar or any member of the Senior Management Team to ask questions or seek any needed clarification. Should the concern remain, the individual is encouraged to file the concern in writing as outlined later in this Protocol.

    6. Reporting Procedures 

      Concerns shall be reported in the following manner:

      6.1. Any individual(s) may submit a written concern, on an anonymous and/or confidential basis, with any good faith concerns regarding any event within the scope of this Protocol.

      6.2. All such concerns shall be set forth in writing and forwarded in a sealed envelope to the immediate attention of one of the following individuals: the College’s CEO & Registrar, the Chief Operating Officer or the Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee at the following address:

      [to the attention of one of the above individuals]
      Personal and Confidential
      College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
      11120-178 St NW,
      Edmonton, AB T5S 1P2

      6.3. The envelope should be clearly labelled “To be opened by the (addressee) only.”

      6.4. If the individual reporting the concern would like to discuss any matter with the addressee, the individual should indicate this in the submission and include a telephone number at which they may be contacted.

      6.5. If no action has been initiated within thirty (30) business days of submitting the written concern to the addressee, the concerned individual should forward the same facts in writing in a sealed envelope to an alternate addressee at the same address, in the same manner as outlined above.

    7. Investigation Procedures

      7.1. The CEO & Registrar is typically responsible for investigating and resolving all complaints or concerns submitted under the Protocol (except in cases where the CEO & Registrar is cited in the complaint, in which case an alternate process will be followed as explained below). The CEO & Registrar shall advise the Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee and the Chair of Council and may at their discretion advise the College’s Senior Management team of complaints or concerns received, prior to the date of their final report, unless the CEO & Registrar determines that it would be inappropriate in the circumstances. In all such communication, all possible measures will be taken to protect the identity of the concerned individual(s).

      7.2. In the event the concerned individual identifies the CEO & Registrar in their concern, the recipient of the written concern will notify the Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. The Finance and Audit Chair will inform the Council Chair and call an immediate meeting of the Finance and Audit Committee to present the complaint and to receive further advice and direction, regarding next steps. The Finance and Audit Committee will also select an alternate to the CEO & Registrar to conduct the investigation.

      7.3. The CEO & Registrar (or alternate) may enlist other individual(s) of the College or retain, at the College’s expense, outside legal, accounting or other advisors to assist in conducting any investigation.

      7.4. In conducting their investigation, the CEO & Registrar (or alternate) shall make every effort to maintain anonymity and confidentiality of the individual. However, given the nature of the investigation, it might be possible for third parties to deduce the identity of the complainant. For these reasons, anonymity may not be guaranteed.

      7.5. Using their best judgment, the CEO & Registrar (or alternate) shall advise any individual that has been named in a complaint or concern at an appropriate time during the investigation. Unless the CEO & Registrar (or alternate) determines that it would be inappropriate in the circumstances, the person named will have an opportunity to respond to the complaint or concern in writing, and that response will be included in the CEO & Registrar’s (or alternate’s) final report.

      7.6. Following a thorough investigation of each matter reported, the CEO & Registrar (or alternate) will direct any required remedial or disciplinary actions to the Human Resources department and notify the chief officer of the department.

      7.7. Remedial and disciplinary action for confirmed financial wrongdoing may involve a range of actions and could include a verbal warning, required continuing education, a written letter or reprimand, demotion, loss of salary increase , suspension without pay, termination of employment and/or civil action or criminal prosecution.

      7.8. The CEO & Registrar (or alternate) shall report any valid complaints or concerns received, including the results of any subsequent investigation, to the Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee and the Council Chair, taking all possible measures to protect the identity of the individuals involved.

      7.9. The CEO & Registrar shall retain records regarding complaints reported in a secure manner that shall be kept in accordance with the College's record retention policy and applicable law.

      7.10. The CEO & Registrar shall report at least annually to the Finance and Audit Committee on this Protocol and their activities under it.

    8. Fair Treatment and Confidentiality

      All persons involved in allegations of suspected wrongdoing are to be treated fairly and impartially regardless of their position or the length of their involvement with the College. All disclosures made under this Protocol and all investigations will be handled in a confidential and sensitive manner. The details of individual(s) disclosures and the results of investigations will be disclosed, discussed or reported only to those parties who have a legitimate need to know.

    9. No Retaliation

      9.1. The Protocol is intended to encourage and enable individual(s) to raise questions or report serious concerns within the College, rather than seeking resolution outside the College. Accordingly, the College does not permit retaliation or harassment of any kind against any individual for complaints submitted that are made in good faith.

      9.2. It is important to note that there may be consequences for reports made for reasons beyond what could be considered “good faith” (for example, if the individual is aware that the reported information is false, or is made with intent to harm another).

    10. Amendments

      The Finance and Audit Committee will review the Protocol annually and bring forward suggested revisions to Council.

Complaint Process Diagram