New Whistleblower legislation protects public sector employees, makes Alberta a leader in Canada
Legislation key component of accountable, transparent and transformational government
The Alberta government is opening the doors to public disclosure of wrongdoing in the public sector by introducing key legislation that delivers on its promise to do business with greater openness and transparency.
“We promised a fundamental change in the way government works and this new Act is a critical part of that pledge to Albertans,” said Premier Alison Redford. “By putting whistleblower protection in place we will continue to lead the way in open, accountable government."
The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act will apply to the Alberta Public Service, provincial agencies, boards and commissions, as well as academic institutions, school boards and health organizations. Under the proposed legislation, an Office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner will be created to investigate and resolve complaints by employees who report violations of provincial or federal law; acts or omissions that create a danger to the public or environment; and gross mismanagement of public funds.
Whistleblower legislation will protect employees who make disclosure from reprisals, such as wrongful dismissal, and creates a process for the disclosure of wrongdoing. The penalty for offences under the Act is $25,000 for the first conviction to a maximum of $100,000 for subsequent offences.
“With this new legislation, Albertans have the assurance that the protection of the public interest is absolutely paramount,” said Manmeet S. Bhullar, Minister of Service Alberta. “It protects employees, provides an avenue for ethical disclosure and opens government in a new way. It is a key component of the transformation Premier Redford has committed to.”
“This legislation is a significant move toward ensuring integrity in the operation of public bodies,” said Don Scott, Associate Minister of Accountability, Transparency and Transformation. “Whistleblower protection will create a safe space for public disclosure of wrongdoing in the best interests of all Albertans.”
The legislation would come into force upon proclamation expected on June 1, 2013. This will allow appropriate regulations to be developed and public bodies time to create policies and procedures to comply with the Act.
Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act
The purpose of the Act includes:
- establishing a process for the disclosure of wrongdoing;
- protecting those who make disclosures from reprisal;
- resolving recommendations arising from investigations; and,
- promoting confidence in the public sector.
The Act covers:
- Alberta Public Service and provincial agencies, boards and commissions; and,
- post-secondary academic institutions, school boards and the health sector.
The Act establishes a new Officer of the Legislature:
- The Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner is responsible for investigating and making recommendations related to disclosures of wrongdoing and reprisals.
All public entities covered under the Act must establish responsive disclosure procedures:
- Chief Officers will be responsible for implementing procedures for managing disclosures and communicating these to their employees, and must designate a senior official to manage disclosures.
- The Act sets out requirements for internal procedures, including protecting the identity of individuals involved in the disclosure and investigation process.
The Act establishes strong enforcement mechanisms:
- The Act creates offences for making a reprisal, obstructing an investigation, destroying records or making false or misleading statements to an investigator.
- Penalties as a result of prosecution for an offence include:
- $25,000 fine for first conviction; and
- $100,000 fine for subsequent convictions.
- The Act does not replace other remedies and, where appropriate, wrongdoings must be referred to the appropriate authority. For example, investigations that confirm fraudulent use of public funds would be referred to law enforcement for prosecution.
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Media inquiries may be directed to:
Minister of Service Alberta
To call toll-free within Alberta dial 310-0000.