Public sector whistleblower protection

Creates a safe avenue for public sector employees to speak out about wrongdoings or make complaints of reprisal.

Overview

The Government of Alberta supports a culture within the public sector that encourages employees and management to report significant and serious matters they believe may be unlawful, dangerous or injurious to the public interest.  This culture is critical to ensuring public sector employees maintain the highest possible standards of honesty, openness, and accountability.

This page provides information on how:

  • public sector whistleblowers are protected
  • reports of wrongdoing are received and investigated
  • to identify a wrongdoing
  • to identify a reprisal (punishment for reporting wrongdoing)
  • to report a wrongdoing
  • to report a reprisal

For more information, read the Procedures to Manage Disclosures for Designated Officers (0.3 MB)

Protecting public sector whistleblowers

Alberta’s public sector whistleblowers are protected under the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act.

The Act is in place to protect public sector employees from punishment if they:

  • disclose wrongdoing that is conducted against the public’s interest
  • seek advice about disclosing a wrongdoing
  • co-operate in an investigation into wrongdoing
  • decline to participate in suspected wrongdoing

It also ensures:

  • confidentiality and anonymity to public servants who report a wrongdoing
  • a clear process and set of timelines to guide public sector employees when they disclose wrongdoing in the public sector
  • a transparent process in place to support investigations
  • a strict set of penalties for those who commit a reprisal (punishment for reporting wrongdoing), obstruct an investigation, destroy records, or make false or misleading statements as part of an investigation

Public sector whistleblower protection applies to the:

  • Alberta Public Service
  • Offices of the Legislature
  • provincial agencies, boards, and commissions
  • Crown corporations
  • academic institutions
  • school boards
  • health organizations

The role of Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner

The office of the Public Interest Commissioner is an independent office of the Alberta Legislature. It provides advice and investigates disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisals made by employees of  jurisdictional public entities.

The role of the Alberta Public Service’s Designated Officer

All public sector organizations must appoint a Chief or Designated Officer and establish an internal process to receive, manage, and investigate reports of wrongdoing.

Alberta Public Service employees can confidentially report a wrongdoing through the Designated Officer or, where there is a high risk of reprisal, Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner.

The Alberta Public Service’s Designated Officer is appointed by the Public Service Commissioner  and is responsible for:

  • receiving disclosures of wrongdoing and assessing whether or not to investigate
  • protecting the confidentiality and anonymity of public servants who make a disclosure
  • conducting investigations into allegations, where warranted
  • providing a written report to the Deputy Minister of the relevant department with recommendations to correct the wrongdoing

Identify a wrongdoing

Under Alberta’s Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act , a wrongdoing is limited to the following actions committed after June 1, 2013:

  • unlawful actions that break provincial or federal legislation
  • substantial and specific danger to person(s) or the environment
  • gross mismanagement of public funds or assets
  • counselling to commit a wrongdoing

Identify a reprisal

Under Alberta’s Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act, a reprisal, where an employee is punished for making a disclosure, is limited to the following actions committed after June 1, 2013:

  • dismissal
  • layoff
  • suspension
  • demotion or transfer
  • discontinuation or elimination of a job
  • change to job location
  • reduction in pay
  • change in hours of work or reprimand
  • threats of any of the above actions

Report a wrongdoing

If you are a member of the Alberta Public Service seeking to report a wrongdoing, follow the steps below.

Step 1. Determine the nature of your concern

Determine if your concern is a wrongdoing as defined by the Alberta Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act.  

Otherwise, the Alberta Public Service has well-established processes to address grievances. 

If you are unsure then please contact the Designated Officer for advice.

Step 2. Report the wrongdoing

If you wish to disclose a wrongdoing, submit your confidential complaint (0.1 MB) to the Designated Officer. If there is a high risk of reprisal, submit your complaint through Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner.

Your disclosure will be acknowledged within 5 business days of receipt.

After you report

Your representative will review your disclosure to determine if an investigation is warranted. Decisions on conducting an investigation will be made within 10 days of receipt of your disclosure.

Resulting investigations and reports will be complete within 100 days of receipt.

If you are unsatisfied with the results

If you make a disclosure through your Designated Officer and are unsatisfied with the findings, you may make a subsequent disclosure to Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner.

Report a reprisal

If you feel you have been the subject of a reprisal and wish to make a complaint, you must contact Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner directly with a complaint.

Contact

Alberta Public Service’s Designated Officer
Whistleblower@gov.ab.ca
780-644-5602

Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner
info@pic.alberta.ca
Toll free: 1-855-641-8659
Calgary: 403-592-3106
Edmonton: 780-641-8659