News / Ottawa

New proposed whistleblower law could make it easier for public servants to report

Committee recommends changes to make it easier to report wrongdoing.

A new report suggests strengthening the law which protects public servants who blow the whistle.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A new report suggests strengthening the law which protects public servants who blow the whistle.

Public servants who blow the whistle could have greater protection in the workplace under new proposals the government will have to decide on this fall.

The House of Commons standing committee on government operations and estimates released a report last week on the whistleblower law, arguing for more resources for those who come forward and clearer rules to ensure they’re not retaliated against.

Dany Richard, president of the Association of Canadian Financial Officers, said the committee isn’t recommending everything the union’s members want, but it’s a vast improvement. 

“Overall, I think it’ a step in the right direction,” he said. “It will help our members a lot.”

Richard said his members want to know that if they come forward they and their job will be safe.  

“We represent financial professionals. They see the numbers. And if something doesn’t add up they need a mechanism and they need to trust the system,” he said.

One of the major changes is a reverse-onus provision. Currently, whistleblowers have to prove they’re being targeted for speaking out, but the committee is recommending a change that would force government to show they’re not targeting the employee.

Richard said reprisals are rarely so blatant as demotions or outrights firings. Usually, the measures faced by whistleblowers — being excluding from meetings or passed over for promotions — are more subtle.

The proposed changes, he argued, will make people more comfortable coming forward.

“It will encourage them to speak their mind and speak freely.”

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