Proposed legislation introduced last week would better protect whistleblowers and help ensure wrongdoings in the public sector are reported and addressed.
If passed, the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Amendment Act would be among the most comprehensive legislation of its kind in Canada. The proposed amendments would encourage the reporting of wrongdoings within the public sector by better protecting whistleblowers from any form of punishment or retaliation from their employer.
For instance, the new act would entitle whistleblowers to remediation if they suffer a reprisal from their employer for reporting a wrongdoing. If there has been a reprisal, the Labour Relations Board would decide what form of restitution should be made to the whistleblower and enforce compliance.
“Albertans deserve a government that’s committed to the highest standards of responsibility, accountability, ethics and transparency. It’s important that public sector employees feel safe to report serious wrongdoings and are protected from reprisal. We hope this legislation will encourage more people to come forward when a matter needs to be investigated.”
If passed, the bill would also:
- Ensure more detailed public reporting from the Public Interest Commissioner, including specific findings and results of investigations.
- Allow the Public Interest Commissioner to investigate a wider variety of wrongdoings, including some forms of mismanagement, bullying or abuse of human resources.
- Protect whistleblowers from reprisal from the moment they approach their supervisor about a wrongdoing.
- Extend protections to more employees, including staff in the offices of the Premier and ministers.
The proposed legislation was drafted based on recommendations in the final report of the all-party Select Special Ethics and Accountability Committee released last fall.
If the bill is passed, stakeholders will be consulted on the development of regulations that could extend whistleblower protection even further.