The Public Interest Disclosure Act - which is supposed to protect workers who come forward with information about wrongdoing - is currently in the middle of a legislative review, with amendments expected for the fall sitting of the legislature. At a hearing on Thursday, the Alberta Federation of Labour submitted recommendations to the review panel.
"Whistleblower protections are an important component of worker's rights and employment rights," Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan said. "Those rights should not be contingent on whether your paycheque comes from the government, from a non-profit, or from a corporation. Whistleblower protections should protect all workers."
The current act was passed in 2012 in response to a number of scandals, but has never been as stringent as it should have been. Because of this review, Alberta has a chance to adopt practices that have been proven effective in jurisdictions all over the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom - where whistleblower protection extends to the private sector.
"Many Albertans work in potentially dangerous and risky workplaces in the private sector. Undisclosed wrongdoings present the potential for massive economic and environmental damage. That's why effective whistleblower protection for private-sector workers is particularly important here in a province with a thriving petrochemical industry," McGowan said. "Without whistleblower protection, practices that squander public dollars, threaten the environment and cheat consumers continue without remedy."
The Federation of Labour's submission offered additional recommendations including:
- Making sure workers in vulnerable, precarious or non-traditional jobs are protected by the act.
- Ensuring that it's easier for workers to report wrongdoing - and that there is someone they can safely report to.
- Requiring the Public Interest Commissioner to report on the number and nature of disclosures he has received.
- When the Public Interest Commissioner decides not to pursue an investigation, requiring him to provide a reason.
- Making the legislation enforceable, with stiff penalties for employers who conduct reprisals against whistleblowers.
Link to AFL's Whistleblower Legislation Review HERE.