As discussed in a previous posting, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) implemented its whistleblowing program in July 2016 and became the first Canadian Province to include a controversial monetary award for whistleblowers. On February 27, 2019, the OSC made history yet again when it announced its first whistleblower award of $7.5 million. Outside of the United States few countries have adopted monetary awards for whistleblowers. While the OSC has said that protecting whistleblowers is of the utmost importance to the OSC, little information has been revealed regarding this unprecedented award. The only information that has been confirmed is that the $7.5 million award is to be split among three whistleblowers for three separate matters regarding Ontario Securities violations. The names of the whistleblowers and the companies remain confidential.
While some Canadians were concerned about the inclusion of a financial incentive for blowing the whistle, it has proven to be a successful provision in routing out wrongdoing in Ontario. Maureen Jensen, the OSC’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson, confirmed that the whistleblowing program is a “game-changer for the OSC’s enforcement efforts.” Jeff Kehoe, the OSC’s Director of Enforcement, also commented “Whistleblowers expose complex securities misconduct that may not otherwise come to light, allowing us to take timely action. We hope this announcement, alongside our substantive whistleblower protections, will encourage more whistleblowers to come forward.”