Diane McLeod-McKay, the Yukon’s public interest disclosure commissioner, has highlighted issues with the Yukon’s whistleblower protection legislation. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Diane McLeod-McKay, the Yukon’s public interest disclosure commissioner, has highlighted issues with the Yukon’s whistleblower protection legislation. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Commissioner highlights issues with whistleblower protection legislation

March 24 was Canada’s first Whistleblower Awareness Day

Diane McLeod-McKay, the Yukon’s public interest disclosure commissioner, is highlighting issues with the territory’s legislation protecting whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers are government employees who report potential wrongdoings within their departments or organizations.

The Yukon’s Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA) intends to protect employees from being penalized for reporting.

PIDWA is an important component of ensuring accountability amongst those who work in public entities,” said McLeod-McKay in a press release. “It also promotes public confidence in the administration of the entities covered by the legislation.”

McLeod-McKay highlighted PIDWA’s failings in honour of the first inaugural Whistleblower Awareness Day on March 24, organized by Canadian disclosure offices.

PIDWA came into force in the Yukon in 2015. McLeod-McKay said she has found several issues with the legislation’s implementation in the past five years.

She noted that no public entities have procedures effectively managing the disclosure process, nor protecting the identity of the discloser. Government employees are also not receiving adequate training on how to make a disclosure.

Some employees have made disclosures to their managers, who have not recognized them as disclosures and treated them as human resources matters.

A lack of set procedures and designated reporting office has caused problems, McLeod-McKay explained.

“Every one that we’ve had so far, because there is no clear path, we’re having to go back and say did you make a disclosure … and evaluate whether requirements were met,” she said. “We’re seeing it quite a bit.”

Because disclosures are not being properly managed, there is risk that disclosers might be reprised. There is also no clear authority for McLeod-McKay to obtain evidence for an investigation ensuing from a PIDWA disclosure.

PIDWA is mandated for review five years after it comes into effect, and as such, it is currently under review, McLeod-McKay said.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at gabrielle.plonka@yukon-news.com

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