Whistleblowing initiative

Criminal Cartel Whistleblowing Initiative

The Criminal Cartel Whistleblowing Initiative is a way for members of the public to provide information to the Competition Bureau regarding possible violations of the criminal cartel provisions of the Competition Act. These provisions are found in sections 45 to 49 of the Act and prohibit, among other things, agreements or arrangements among competitors to fix prices, allocate markets, restrict output or rig bids.

Who is a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is a person who voluntarily provides information to the Bureau about a possible violation of the Act that has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur. Section 66.1 of the Act includes specific provisions protecting the identity of a whistleblower.

What is the Competition Act?

The Act is a federal law of general application that applies to virtually all business conduct in Canada. It is administered and enforced by the Commissioner of Competition, with the help of his staff at the Bureau. The purpose of the Act is to maintain and encourage competition in Canada to, for example, promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy.

The Act contains both criminal and civil provisions aimed at preventing anti‑competitive practices in the marketplace.

What types of agreements among competitors are criminal under the Competition Act?

The criminal provisions in the Act apply to agreements or arrangements among competitors to fix prices, allocate markets or restrict output that constitute "naked restraints" on competition (restraints that are not implemented in furtherance of a legitimate collaboration, strategic alliance or joint venture). They also prohibit foreign directives, bid-rigging and certain conspiracies relating to professional sports and federal financial institutions.

How do I provide information to the Competition Bureau?

To provide information to the Bureau as a whistleblower about possible violations of the criminal cartel provisions of the Act, please contact the Bureau's Information Centre by phone or by fax at the numbers listed below. The Information Centre is open between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time from Monday to Friday.

Telephone Number: 1-800-348-5358
Please press "0" to speak with an Information Officer of the Competition Bureau.

TDD (for hearing impaired): 1‑866‑694‑8389

Fax: 819-997-0324

Do I have to provide my identity or other personal information to the Competition Bureau?

How much personal information you provide is up to you. To learn how we safeguard your personal information, please read our Privacy Statement. If you don't provide your name and certain other information, it may be impossible for us to respond to your request or provide you with the protections that exist under the Act for whistleblowers.

Will the Competition Bureau keep my identity confidential?

Under section 66.1 of the Act, anyone who has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed, or intends to commit a criminal offence under the Act, may notify the Bureau of the particulars of the matter and may request that his or her identity be kept confidential. The Bureau will keep confidential the identity of a person who has made such disclosure and to whom an assurance of confidentiality has been provided. However, depending on the circumstances, a whistleblower may be required to testify in court proceedings.

Will the Competition Bureau keep the information I provide confidential?

Information provided by a whistleblower cannot be communicated except as provided for under section 29 of the Act. Essentially, that section provides the Bureau with the discretion to communicate information in four limited circumstances:

  • Communication of information to a Canadian law enforcement agency;
  • Communication of information for the purposes of administration or enforcement of the Act;
  • Communication of information that has been made public; or
  • Communication of information when it has been authorized by the person who provided the information.

As noted above, the Bureau will keep the identity of a whistleblower confidential. Accordingly, the Bureau will ensure that any information provided by a whistleblower that is communicated under these exceptions does not reveal the whistleblower's identity.

How does the Competition Bureau investigate cases?

The whistleblower's information will be examined to determine whether a formal inquiry should be commenced under the Act. All inquiries are conducted in private and strict confidentiality requirements are included in the Act.

During the inquiry stage, Bureau officers have many tools at their disposal to determine the facts of the situation. They can apply for authorization from a court to search premises, examine or seize records, question witnesses under oath and intercept private communications.

What rights do I have if my employer retaliates against me for submitting information to the Competition Bureau?

Under section 66.2 of the Act, employers shall not dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline, harass or otherwise disadvantage an employee, or deny an employee a benefit of employment, as a result of the employee providing information on reasonable belief and in good faith to the Bureau under the whistleblower program.

Whistleblowers are also protected by other legislations, including the Criminal Code, which makes it an offence for an employer to take disciplinary measures against, demote, terminate or otherwise adversely affect the employment of an employee, or to threaten to do so, because the employee has provided or will provide information to a person whose duties include the enforcement of federal law.

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