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
Good whistleblower protection could have prevented Phoenix, argues David Hutton.
The Centre for Free Expression has urged the Ontario Security Commission to clarify its policy guidance as to when in-house counsel would be eligible for the whistleblowing award. We endorsed the submission of Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP.
David Hutton, CFE Senior Fellow, comments on recent Commons committee report on whistleblower protection and what the Federal Goverment should do next.
The Centre for Free Expression has encouraged the Trudeau government to implement the recommendations of today’s standing committee report on improving Canada’s federal whistleblowing law.
The Government Operations Committee report recommends a number of changes to provide genuine protection to federal civil servants that blow the whistle on government wrongdoing.
“The report’s recommendations go a long way to fixing a law that has failed to protect federal whistleblowers since it was introduced ten years ago by the Harper Government,” said David Hutton, Senior Fellow at the Ryerson University Centre for Free Expression and one of Canada’s leading experts on whistleblowing.
Whistleblowers typically pay a huge price for their openness and honesty. Why is that? What can be done to protect them and the public interest.