Alberta’s “landmark” whistleblower protection law is now in effect, as of June 1. The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act, passed in the fall 2012 session of the legislature, protects public sector employees from job reprisal if they report wrongdoing.
“Our government is leading the way in openness and transparency, setting the gold standard for expense disclosure rules in Canada, opening the doors to government data through our new Open Data Portal, and establishing legislation to protect whistleblowers,” said Manmeet S. Bhullar, minister of Service Alberta.
The new law gives public sector employees the confidence and protection in reporting a wrongdoing, said Don Scott, associate minister of accountability, transparency and transformation.
“It means no dismissal, layoff, suspension, demotion or transfer, or fear of reprimand or harassment for whistleblowers,” he said. “Any measure taken to adversely affect the whistleblower’s employment or working conditions will be met with steep fines of up to $25,000 for a first offence and up to $100,000 for subsequent offences.”
The legislation applies to: the Alberta Public Service; provincial agencies, boards and commissions with employees; post-secondary academic institutions; school boards; charter schools; private schools that receive government grants; and public sector health organizations. Health-care professionals appointed to the medical or professional staff of a public organization, or who hold privileges with one, are also protected under the act.
Under the legislation, public sector bodies are required to appoint a designated officer at their organization 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
• gross mismanagement of public funds.
Employees can also take their complaint directly to the newly established Office of the Public Interest Commissioner.
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