Committee supports whistleblower protection

An all-party committee has tabled recommendations for new legislation that would protect whistleblowers. Opposition parties have accused the government of stalling on the issue for years.

An all-party committee has tabled recommendations for new legislation that would protect whistleblowers.

Opposition parties have accused the government of stalling on the issue for years.

“The need to protect public servants who report wrongdoing in government has been well known for years,” said NDP Leader Liz Hanson.

“The Yukon Party committed to it in 2006, so six years later, it is fair to say that, although progress has been slow, persistence has paid off.”

During the Yukon Party’s previous term in office, a whistleblowing committee met 13 times between 2007 and 2010. During that time, it held consultations and prepared a series of recommendations.

But the government withheld its support of the committee report, so it was never tabled in the legislature.

A new committee was struck during the spring sitting of the legislature this year.

Now that recommendations have been tabled, the NDP is calling for the government to take swift action to write legislation that reflects the committee’s report by the spring of 2013.

“We received the report yesterday, just some hours ago, literally,” responded Elaine Taylor, the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, last week. “As a government and as a caucus and as a collective, we will be reviewing the contents of the report and the recommendations and we will be moving forward in short order. We recognize the importance of whistleblower legislation, as we do a multitude of other pieces of legislation.”

But Silver doesn’t buy that Taylor isn’t up to date on what her colleagues have been up to all this time, he said.

“If she’s only seeing this, or hearing about this now, that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

The committee recommended that the legislation protects all employees of government departments and corporations, with the option of extending coverage to additional public institutions, non-profit organizations and private organizations during a mandatory review of the legislation.

Only employees, and not unions, advocacy groups, media or private citizens, would be able to access protections under the legislation. The committee found that other avenues exist to protect other individuals who speak out about government misdeeds.

Taylor disputes that public servants are unprotected in the absence of whistleblower legislation.

“There are collective agreements that also provide a variety of dispute-resolution mechanisms available to employees who challenge the actions of the employer itself, ranging from civil action in the courts, grievances, adjudications and again through the use of the human rights commission.

“We are committed to upholding the various avenues to resolve disputes among Yukon government employees and we’re very much committed to whistleblower legislation as well.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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