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As Canadian as apple pie: a critique of the OSC's adoption of whistleblowing bounties under Policy 15-601

Faculty Advisor




Whistleblowers, Capital market, United States. Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Reward (Law), Ontario Securities Commission

Abstract (summary)

Effective whistleblower protection is a matter of increasing concern in the capita! markets, with most industrialized countries having adopted some form of whistleblower protection legislation in the past decade. Internationally, capital markets regulators have debated whether payment of financial incentives to whistleblowers improves overall outcomes. In July 2016, the Ontario Securities Commission (the "OSC") adopted a comprehensive whistleblower program that involved payment of whistleblower "bounties" following the SEC model in the United States. Two other Canadian securities commissions (Quebec and Alberta) have subsequently rejected the OSC model in the design of their own whistleblower protection programs. This article reviews the history and landscape of whistleblower protection in Canada with a focus on the recent OSC initiative that resulted in Policy 15-601. Academic arguments for and against payment of whistleblower bounties are discussed, along with consideration of the trajectory of capital markets regulators outside of Canada and the United States. The article concludes that there is no sufficiently compelling rationale for adoption of whistleblower bounties in the Canadian public markets context. The OSC has adopted the American mode! without proper regard for an evolving consensus in international whistleblower best practices and local Canadian context. Moreover, the OSC's adoption of a whistleblower bounty model leads to a number of other problematic program elements that could have been avoided. A national whistleblower policy implemented by provincial securities regulators without a financial compensation component would be preferable for the Canadian capital markets.

Publication Information

Wilson, L. D. (2019). As Canadian as Apple Pie: A Critique of the Osc’s Adoption of Whistleblowing Bounties under Policy 15-601. Canadian Business Law Journal, 62(1), 63–98.



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