Committee reviewing federal whistleblower protection law right now – strong recommendations needed to push Trudeau Liberals to make key changes
Governments across Canada need to make same changes to ensure government and business whistleblowers are fully protected, as banking scandal shows
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch testified before the House of Commons Government Operations Committee as it reviews the federal public sector whistleblower protection law. Democracy Watch submission included the Change.org petition that 21,000 voters have signed in the past few weeks calling for 17 key changes by the federal governmentto protect people who blow the whistle on government and big business abuse, waste and law-breaking. As the current banking service scandal shows, such protection is much needed.
The 17 key changes include: ensuring everyone is covered by the protection law and system, including political staff; allowing everyone to file their complaint directly and anonymously with the protection commissioner or agency; ensuring the protection commissioner is fully independently appointed and empowered to impose penalties (as Ontario appoints and empowers judges); requiring the protection commissioner/agency to conduct audits and rule on all complaints publicly in a timely manner (with the identity of all wrongdoers made public); compensating whistleblowers for legal advice, and rewarding them adequately if their claims are proven; allowing them to appeal to court if they disagree with the protection commissioner’s ruling, and, ensuring an independent audit of the protection system at least every three years.
“The federal Liberals claimed in their 2015 election platform that greater openness and transparency are fundamental to restoring trust in Canada’s democracy but if they don’t strengthen whistleblower protection they will break their open government promise,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “As the current banking service scandal shows, the federal government also needs to pass a law protecting all federally regulated workers, and provincial governments need to make changes to protect everyone in their province who blows the whistle on wrongdoing in politics and business.”
People have tried to protect Canadians by blowing the whistle on governments wasting billions of dollars, approving dangerous drugs, and covering up scandals, and on big businesses gouging them, selling them hazardous products, and covering up pollution and oil spills.
These whistleblowers have been harassed, fired from their jobs, sued, silenced and hurt by governments and big businesses – all because Canadian whistleblower protection laws are weak and enforcement is negligently bad.
The federal Liberals failed to include any promises to strengthen whistleblower protection in their 2015 election platform. The federal Conservatives did little to strengthen whistleblower protection from 2006 to 2015, and actually covered up scandals involving the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (who enforces the federal law). Other federal parties have done little to push for key changes.
Provincial governments across Canada have also failed to protect government and business whistleblowers fully and effectively, although the Ontario Securities Commission took a big step forward in protecting securities law whistleblowers with a new program launched in July 2016 which offers up to $5 million as a reward for whistleblowers whose claims are proven (which has led to calls to reward securities law whistleblowers in other provinces and to reward Competition Act whistleblowers).
Democracy Watch will continue its ProtectWhistleblowers.ca letter-writing campaign and petition until these changes are made across Canada.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch’s Protect Whistleblowers Who Protect You Campaign