Vol. 149, No. 6 — February 7, 2015
Rules Amending the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal Rules of Procedure
Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal
(This statement is not part of the Rules.)
Issues and objectives
An amendment to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal Rules of Procedure (the “Rules”) is required to align the Rules with the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada Act (ATSSCA) as enacted by An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, S.C. 2014, c. 20, s. 376, assented to on June 19, 2014. It is also proposed to modernize Tribunal processes by stating that the electronic version of a document filed electronically is to be considered its original and by allowing the Tribunal to create original electronic documents from their paper version.
Description and rationale
First, the proposed amendment will align the Rules with the ATSSCA by redefining the term “registrar.” The ATSSCA provides for the centralization of administrative services devoted to affected federal administrative tribunals within a new entity called the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada (the “Service”). As a result, amendments must be made to the Rules to reflect the fact that the Tribunal will no longer independently provide for its own registry services.
By redefining the Tribunal’s registrar as being a person designated by the Service, the Rules of the Tribunal reflect the effective transfer of its registry function to the Service. The proposed new definition of the term “registrar” will have a minimal impact on the procedures already put in place by the Tribunal.
Second, the proposed changes would state that the electronic version of a document filed electronically with the Tribunal is to be considered its original and would allow the Tribunal to create original electronic documents from their paper version. With this change, the Tribunal aligns itself with modern process practices to achieve better efficiency.
The amendment proposes two assumptions of authenticity for electronic versions of documents that are exchanged during Tribunal procedures. The first assumption applies to the electronic version of documents that are filed at the Tribunal; the electronic version of a document filed via electronic means (e.g. by email or online filing) will be considered to be its original version. However, this assumption could be questioned by a party should an issue over the authenticity of a document arise.
The second assumption applies to documents that are created by the Tribunal. In such a case, the Tribunal will be allowed to create an electronic version of a paper document and this electronic version will be considered to be its original version. Again, the assumption could be questioned by a party if an authenticity issue arises.
The proposed changes will not have the effect of constraining parties to use electronic supports for their Tribunal proceedings. However, these provisions would encourage them to do so and allow for the Tribunal to modernize the way in which it communicates with parties.
As a comparison, the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, SOR/2002-156, recognize at subsection 21(2) that if an electronic version of a document is required, it must be a true copy of the original printed version, and that in the case of a discrepancy between versions, the original printed version will be considered official. These rules thus recognize the possible use of electronic documents.
Similar provisions on the use of electronic documents in proceedings were also recently adopted by the federal Social Security Tribunal in sections 8 and 9 of its rules (SOR/2013-60).
It is a common trend within other federal administrative tribunals to use online filing systems or to allow filing via other electronic means (namely emails) in order to increase efficiency.
Finally, a consequential amendment should be brought to the French version of section 29 of the Rules, which states that in certain situations, a party or interested person must prepare a “book of authorities.” While the term does not present any problem in the English version, the current French use of “cahier de textes faisant autorité” generally refers to a paper document. Given that the proposed amendment to the Rules would allow the production of the “book of authorities” in electronic format, it is proposed that “cahier” be amended to “recueil,” a more neutral word that would include paper-based documents as well as documents in electronic format.
Benefits and costs
The amendments will not entail any additional costs to the Government or to those covered by the Rules. Additional resources are not necessary to ensure compliance and enforcement. It is likely that there will be savings realized as a result of added efficiencies.
During the development of the proposed amendment that redefines the term “registrar,” the Tribunal consulted with stakeholders engaged in implementing the ATSSCA. Stakeholders concurred with the Tribunal’s suggestion that amending the definition of the term “registrar” attains the alignment objectives. Pursuant to subsection 21(3) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (the Act), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were also consulted and concur with this amendment.
Concerning the electronic serving and filing of documents, the Tribunal presented and discussed the proposed amendment with its consultation group composed of representatives from the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Association of Justice Counsel, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada and the Canadian Association of Professional Employees. In addition, as required by subsection 21(3) of the Act, the consultation group included representatives of the RCMP. The group met on May 8, 2014, for its first biannual meeting, and all of the consulted stakeholders concurred with the proposed amendment.
Compliance, enforcement and service standards
The Rules will be administered by the Service and the Tribunal in accordance with principles established under the Act.
Interested persons may make representations to
Senior Legal Counsel
Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal
90 Sparks Street, Room 512
Notice is given, pursuant to subsection 21(4) (see footnote a) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (see footnote b), that the Chairperson of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal, pursuant to subsection 21(2) (see footnote c) of that Act, proposes to make the annexed Rules Amending the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal Rules of Procedure.
Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed rules within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to François Choquette, Senior Legal Counsel, Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal Canada, Room 512, 90 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5B4 (tel.: 613-355-4802; fax: 613-943-8325).
Ottawa, January 28, 2015
Acting Chairperson of the Public Servants
Disclosure Protection Tribunal
RULES AMENDING THE PUBLIC SERVANTS DISCLOSURE PROTECTION TRIBUNAL RULES OF PROCEDURE
1. The definition “registrar” in section 1 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal Rules of Procedure (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:
« registraire »
“registrar” means an employee of the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada who is designated by its Chief Administrator to act as registrar for the Tribunal.
2. The Rules are amended by adding the following after section 8:
8.1 If a document is filed by electronic filing, any electronic version of it is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, considered to be the original of the document.
8.2 If the Tribunal creates an electronic version of a document that is filed by hand, fax or by mail, the electronic version is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, considered to be the original version of the document.
3. The heading before section 29 of the French version of the Rules is replaced by the following:
RECUEIL DE TEXTES FAISANT AUTORITÉ
4. (1) Subsection 29(1) of the French version of the Rules is replaced by the following:
29. (1) Une partie ou un intervenant qui a l’intention d’invoquer à l’audience des dispositions législatives ou réglementaires, de la jurisprudence ou de la doctrine, les reproduit dans un recueil de textes faisant autorité et surligne les passages pertinents.
(2) Subsection 29(3) of the French version of the Rules is replaced by the following:
(3) Le recueil de textes faisant autorité est déposé au moins quinze jours avant la date à laquelle l’audience commence.
COMING INTO FORCE
5. These Rules come into force on the day on which they are registered.