Public or private sector employees who report illegal, unethical or abusive institutional behaviour typically face retaliation, which can include discipline, ostracism, social stigmatization, demotion, dismissal, and criminal charges. Laws in Canada to protect whistleblowers are largely ineffective and sometimes counterproductive -- the legal forum created by the laws can be a vehicle for formally endorsing the retaliation.
Why It Matters
Whistleblowing serves vital institutional and public purposes. It allows issues of concern to be identified and resolved internally, where possible, and, where not, it brings alleged wrongdoing to public attention so problems can be corrected and future harm avoided.
The tasks of the Centre for Free Expression Whistleblowing Initiative include:
- Investigating the Phoenix payroll system failure;
- Establishing an advice line to support whistleblowers;
- Organizing public events on whistleblowing;
- Evaluating existing whistleblowing laws in Canada;
- Making recommendations for new / improved Canadian whistleblowing laws;
- Maintaining an up-to-date database of major whistleblowing cases in Canada;
- Conducting benchmarking research in Canada on organizational whistleblowing; practices in both the public and private sectors;
- Assisting with the adoption of effective public and private sector organizational whistleblowing policy and procedures;
- Publishing a regular Whistleblowing Newsletter;
- Representing Canada in the Whistleblowing International Network
Initiative: CFE Whistleblowing Initiative
Founded in March 2017, the CFE Whistleblowing Initiative is a project of the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University. Our mission is to protect Canadian society by making responsible whistleblowing possible through effective protection for Canadian whistleblowers.
The Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University (CFE) has launched an independent investigation of the Phoenix Pay System debacle. The goal of the investigation is to determine if the devastating problems might have been prevented had there been adequate whistleblowing protection for public servants who could have safely alerted their superiors to the impending deficiencies and errors.
CFE’s David Hutton was featured prominently in CBC's excellent recent coverage of whistleblowing.
Good whistleblower protection could have prevented Phoenix, argues David Hutton.
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