News / Ottawa

'We want detailed action': Critics want more done to improve whistleblower protections

One critic, Conservative MP Kelly McCauley, argues the government has 'nothing concrete' in place to protect public servants.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 16, 2016.

Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press

Treasury Board President Scott Brison answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 16, 2016.

Public servants who want to blow the whistle on their superiors are getting a little help to get loud, but aren’t getting the changes a House of Commons committee and the integrity commissioner recommended.

Treasury board president Scott Brison wrote to the committee studying the whistleblower bill promising administrative changes, but no changes to the law itself.

“We will move forward to implement improvements to the administration and operation of the internal disclosure process and the protection from acts of reprisal against public servants,” he said in a letter to the committee.

He also promised a web portal as part of the government’s commitment to open government that will have information on whistleblower cases.

Conservative MP Kelly McCauley said the administrative changes Brison is proposing are window dressing and won’t do anything to ensure that whistleblowers feel safe coming forward.

“There is nothing concrete to protect whistleblowers, to protect public servants,” he said. "We want detailed action on how he is going to protect whistleblowers.”

Public Integrity Commissioner Joe Friday was also disappointed by the government’s response. Friday was hoping for legislative changes including a provision that would force departments to demonstrate they weren’t retaliating against employees who speak out rather than the current system that forces whistleblower to prove the retaliation.  

“This is a serious review of an important piece of legislation, so I would have hoped there would have been more uptake on making changes,” said Friday.

He said he can still do the work, but he wants to do it better which is why he asked for a long list of changes.  

“I want to be able to do it better and with a stronger legislative foundation.”

Brison said he’s open to suggestions, but they believe small changes can make a big difference.

“A great deal can be accomplished by focusing on better administration, the use of technology and ensuring we are doing everything we can to have well-functioning whistleblower protection.”

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