The Trudeau government has a real opportunity to put Canadian whistleblower protection back on the map

OTTAWA, June 16, 2017 – Today a Canadian Parliamentary committee released a hard-hitting report calling for a major overhaul of Canada’s inadequate federal whistleblower protection legislation.

The Government Operations Committee recommends a number of changes to provide genuine protection to federal civil servants who blow the whistle on government wrongdoing.

“Finally there is a serious call to reform a law that has done little to protect Canadian federal whistleblowers so far and may in fact have done more harm than good by making civil servants think twice before speaking up.” said Anna Myers, Director of WIN, a network of leading civil society organisations working around the world to protect public interest whistleblowing.

Along with important Canadian witnesses like David Hutton, Senior Fellow at the Ryerson University Centre for Free Expression, the Committee heard from international experts from Ireland, Australia and the USA.

John Devitt, CEO of Transparency International Ireland welcomed the report: “Protecting whistleblowers strengthens accountability across the public and private sectors and ultimately promotes trust with citizens; vital at a time when governments need to prove they can and will take action to protect the public.”

Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project in Washington DC also spoke to the Committee. “The magic word for any society is ‘consequences’ — the tragic consequences that can be avoided if whistleblowers are heeded rather than harmed,” he said. “Until now Canada’s law has proved a paper shield with no credible corrective action taken in the 10 long years since it was enacted. Canadians deserve better.”

Canada’s Centre For Free Expression has followed the Committee’s work closely and identified some of the key changes called for by the report:

  • Making it much easier for whistleblowers to prove that they have suffered reprisals, and providing much more comprehensive compensation, to make them ‘whole’ again
  • Placing a duty on all departments and agencies to actively protect whistleblowers – rather than just refraining from reprisals – with sanctions for failure to do so
  • Requiring much better reporting, performance measurements and oversight, to allow close monitoring of enforcement and to reveal where further improvements are needed.

About the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN)

The Government Accountability Project is a founding member of WIN and TI Ireland is an active member.  Established in 2013, WIN connects and strengthens civil society organisations that defend and support whistleblowers. WIN members work to provide counsel, tools, and expertise needed by those working in different countries to address corruption, waste, fraud, abuse, illegality and threats to the public good.

About the Centre for Free Expression

The Centre for Free Expression is Canada’s only university-based centre focusing on freedom of expression and the public’s right to know. A major part of the Centre’s work is public education and research on whistleblowing.  CFE is proud to be a member of the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN) working to ensure public interest whistleblowing is recognised and protected around the world.

The Report is now available here on the Committee’s website.

A copy of the full WIN press release here.

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