Whistleblower committee ‘stalling’ tactic

If, as a government employee, you discover gross mismanagement of programs, public money or safety issues, you cannot publicly disclose it without fear of losing your job.

If, as a government employee, you discover gross mismanagement of programs, public money or safety issues, you cannot publicly disclose it without fear of losing your job.

Yukoners deserve to know when their public money or their family’s safety is at risk. Yukon government employees deserve to be able to make the right choice to bring that information forward.

Whistleblower legislation enshrines in law protection from being fired or suffering other reprisals at work for disclosing gross government mismanagement. Yukoners don’t have that protection because, despite 10 years of promises, the Yukon government refuses to empower its employees to speak out. Instead, the government is stalling whistleblower legislation by forming another committee to study the issue.

The first such committee, which included MLAs from all political parties, was already formed in May 2007. The Yukon Party majority members stalled that committee by refusing to call meetings or release its findings. Finally, after three and a half years, the Liberal and NDP members released their Minority Report on Whistle-Blower Protections in November 2010. The Yukon Party members refused to sign.

The Yukon government does not need another committee: it already formed and stalled one before. Nor does the Yukon government need more studies: it already has years of research completed by the last committee, including the Liberal/ NDP minority report. Finally, the Yukon government does not require opposition party input to draft legislation: they have already tabled six pieces of legislation this sitting without it.

Employees deserve whistleblower protection and Yukoners deserve to know about gross mismanagement of their funds and safety. The Yukon Liberal Party has twice brought forward whistleblower protection legislation, but the Yukon Party shut down debate.

I have taken part in three successful select committees, and the work of each of them has resulted in legislative change: the smoke-free places, human rights and landlord and tenant select committees. However, I have no confidence in this committee, as it has already been demonstrated to be a stalling tactic.

Therefore, I cannot be a co-conspirator in depriving government workers of the right to speak out and I will not lend validity to a new committee process that is meant only to stall whistleblower protection for, it appears, as long as is possible.

Darius Elias

MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin