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Disclosure of wrongdoings relating to a municipality

Definition of wrongdoing

An act committed by a member of the personnel or the council of a municipality in the exercise of his or her functions or by any other person, may be considered a wrongdoing if it is contrary to the public interest and constitutes:

  • a contravention of a law or a regulation applicable in Québec;
  • a serious breach of the standards of ethics and professional conduct;
  • a misuse of funds or property belonging to a municipality;
  • gross mismanagement within a municipality;any act or omission that seriously compromises or may seriously compromise a person’s health or safety or the environment;
  • directing or counselling a person to commit a wrongdoing mentioned above.

Making a disclosure

If you have information that could prove that a wrongdoing relating to a municipality has been committed or is about to be committed, you may make a disclosure to the Commissaire à l’intégrité municipale et aux enquêtes (CIME - commissioner for municipal integrity and investigations). In general, a whistleblower may communicate any confidential information. A disclosure may consist in a communication of information, a report, a complaint or an information disclosed in the public interest. Note that the CIME will take the means necessary to protect any confidential information once it is received.

Some situations may prevent you from disclosing confidential information. First of all, a restriction applies if this disclosure might not respect professional secrecy by which a lawyer or notary is bound to a client. The other case concerns a disclosure that could reduce the protection the law grants to certain work of municipal executive committees.  For more information on this subject, see the Procedure for processing of disclosure of wrongdoings relating to municipalities and reprisal complaints Ouverture d'un document PDF dans une nouvelle fenêtre (1,9 Mo).

Contents of a disclosure

You are an important source of information.  Therefore, by giving your identity and providing your contact information, you allow the CIME's staff to deal with your disclosure more effectively. Your identity will remain confidential.

Your disclosure should contain any information, evidence or document that could prove that a wrongdoing has been committed or is about to be committed. More specifically, it should answer the following questions:

  • What is the act reported?
  • Why does it involve wrongdoing?
  • Regarding which municipality was the act committed or is the act about to be committed?
  • Who committed the act?  What are this person's position and contact information, if applicable?
  • Are there any witnesses?  What is their contact information, if they are known?  What is their role in committing the act?
  • When and where was the act committed?
  • In what context was the act committed?
  • What are the alleged or apprehended consequences of the act for the municipality, its citizens, the health and safety of people or the environment, as applicable?
  • If the wrongdoing has not been committed yet, but is about to be committed, how is it possible to prevent it?
  • Have you taken any other steps related to the reported act?  If yes, which ones?
  • Do you fear reprisals related to the reported act?  If yes, for what reasons?

To make a disclosuretypo3/#_msocom_2

In writing

  • Complete this secure form Ouverture d'un site externe dans une nouvelle fenêtre. The confidentiality of the information is assured.
    OR
  • Send your information by email to cime@mamot.gouv.qc.ca Courriel, by fax to 418-644‑2656 or by mail to the address below.  The confidentiality of the disclosures made by one of these three means cannot be fully guaranteed.

Mail
Commissaire à l’intégrité municipale et aux enquêtes
Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire
Aile Cook, 3rd floor
10 Rue Pierre-Olivier-Chauveau
Québec, Québec G1R 4J3

By phone
Call the CIME on business days, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon or from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., toll free at 1-855-280-5348, or in the Québec region at 418-691-2071.

In person
On business days, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon or from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., visit the office of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire, located at the following address:

10 Rue Pierre-Olivier-Chauveau
Québec, Québec  G1R 4J3

Confidentiality

The confidentiality of the identity of the whistleblowers of wrongdoings or of persons who cooperate in an audit or an investigation related to a disclosure is at the core of the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies (AFDWPB). A disclosure may be made anonymously or not. 

CIME implements rigorous measures to protect the personal information of whistleblowers and witnesses. Only authorized personnel, in the performance of their duties, may have access to the names and contact information of these persons, and all information obtained will remain confidential. Only the CIME's conclusions may be made public, while always protecting the confidentiality of the whistleblowers and witnesses. However, the CIME may disclose information to its partners, as provided in the AFDWPB. To learn more, visit the section concerning the respective role of bodies controlling wrongdoing.

Moreover, any whistleblower or cooperator in an audit or an investigation related to a disclosure benefits from the protection in case of reprisals provided by the AFDWPB.

Examples of admissible disclosures

The following situations could be considered wrongdoing:

  • A department head recurrently uses municipal property to perform tasks related to personal commercial activities.
  • A director general chooses her spouse as director of public works without a competition and without demonstrating that the choice is based on public interest considerations.
  • A foreman uses a municipal vehicle for personal purposes.
  • A secretary-treasurer reimburses himself for travel expenses incurred for unauthorized purposes.
  • A department head uses funds reserved for a specific purpose for other purposes.
  • An inspector refuses to grant a permit to a person for discretionary reasons that are based on personal considerations.

Processing of disclosures

Receiving a disclosure

If you make an oral disclosure, the staff of the CIME, during the discussion, will explain the conditions of its processing. If certain questions or concerns remain, the CIME will contact you again, as agreed.

In the case of disclosures made in writing or if you give your identity and the telephone number to contact you, the CIME undertakes to communicate with you by this means within no more than 15 business days.  If you provide an email or postal address, an acknowledgment of receipt will be sent to you within five business days.

The CIME's objective is to complete the analysis of admissibility of the disclosures within 15 business days of their receipt.

Admissibility of disclosures

To be admissible, a disclosure must:

  1. allege a wrongdoing relating to a municipality that was committed within the past year or is about to be committed;
    AND
  2. deal with a case that concerns the responsibilities of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire, which are related, in general, to its mission of seeing to the sound administration of the municipal system in the interest of the municipalities and their citizens;
    AND
  3. be made in the public interest rather than for personal purposes.

However, on serious grounds and if the public interest justifies it, the CIME may deal with allegations of alleged wrongdoings that would have occurred over a year previously. Moreover, it may terminate the processing of a disclosure if the allegations turn out to be impossible to corroborate or if the facts expose one or more grounds of inadmissibility.

A disclosure is inadmissible if it:

  1. questions the merits of a decision or a policy of a municipality;
  2. concerns an act that is the subject of court proceedings or relates to a decision rendered by a court;
  3. concerns subject-matter that is part of the mandate of the Public Protector (Québec Ombudsman), the Commission municipale du Québec, the Autorité des marchés publics of the Bureau de l’inspecteur général of Ville de Montréal, according to the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies.

Audits and investigations

In the context of analysis of the merits of a disclosure, the CIME does the verifications he considers appropriate. The CIME may request any person to provide the information or documents he considers useful.

The priority given to the verifications relating to a disclosure is based on the following factors:

  1. the seriousness of the alleged wrongdoing;
  2. the probability that the alleged wrongdoing will be committed or repeated;
  3. the apprehended consequences of the alleged wrongdoing and the possibility of avoiding them;
  4. the risks of reprisals for the whistleblower;
  5. the risks for the health or safety of persons or for the environment related to the alleged wrongdoing.

The decision related to the admissibility of a disclosure will be made within 15 business days of the date of its receipt. 

Concerning verifications, the CIME pursues the objective of completing them within 60 days of the date of receipt of a disclosure.

At the end of these verifications, an investigation could be undertaken. The CIME's objective is to complete his investigations within six months.

Obligation to cooperate in the audits and investigationstypo3/#_msocom_2

Every person has the obligation to cooperate in the audits and investigations conducted by the CIME. Whoever hinders or attempts to hinder the CIME's action, refuses to provide information or a document or conceals or destroys evidence is liable to a fine. This fine varies from $4,000 to $20,000 and is doubled for a subsequent offence. 

Conclusions and follow-up with municipalities

At the end of an audit, the CIME may conclude that no wrongdoing was committed or about to be committed. The CIME also decides whether an investigation will be conducted relating to an alleged wrongdoing.  Following an investigation, the CIME determines whether a wrongdoing was committed or about to be committed.

The CIME then submits the report of his conclusions to the director general of the municipality concerned by the alleged wrongdoing. The CIME may also inform the council of the municipality and any local municipality related to it. The CIME's report may contain recommendations, opinions and guidelines considered useful. The CIME may ask the municipality to be informed, within the specified period, of the corrective actions taken to follow up on his findings.

Before making the report public on his website, the CIME allows the municipality concerned and the persons involved to send him their observations within the prescribed period.

If you give your identity and leave your contact information in writing, you will be notified as soon as the processing of your disclosure is completed. If processing must continue more than 60 days after the date of receipt of the disclosure, you will also be notified in writing and every 90 days subsequently, until the CIME has completed the processing.

If the CIME only has your telephone number, he will contact you when processing of your disclosure is completed.

N.B. In case of a difference between what you can read on this website and in the Procedure for processing of disclosure of wrongdoings relating to municipalities and reprisal complaints Ouverture d'un document PDF dans une nouvelle fenêtre (1,9 Mo), the contents of the Procedure prevail.