The federal government criticized for its whistleblower protection strategy

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Fed criticized for whistleblower protection strategy

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 dlqbmr">The federal government has established a task force to review recommended changes to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

As the federal government sets up a task force to review whistleblower protections for federal public servants, an advocate for those same measures says he is unhappy with the move.

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier announced the review at the end of November.

Director of the Center for Free Expression of Metropolitan University of Toronto, James Turk, for his part, believes that the revision actually shows a lack of will to protect workers who raise their concerns.

You'd think I'd be enthusiastic about it, but I'm really troubled by what the government has announced, he says.

“[This is] an indication that they have made no serious commitment to reforming the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. »

— James Turk, Director of the Center for Free Expression at Metropolitan University of Toronto

Five years ago, a statutory review heard from experts across the country and taken a long time to assess the law and make recommendations, continues Mr. Turk.

These recommendations were adopted unanimously by the parliamentary committee in charge of review the Act, but were never enacted.

Mr. Turk has his doubts. He doesn't really believe the new review will lead to anything.

James Turk, that we sees here in 2020, says he is “very disturbed” by the proposed review of whistleblower protections in Canada.

They made a scathing assessment of the Act and proposed a significant number of major changes that would allow it to do what it is supposed to do, he reports, adding that many of those original proposals are still relevant today. ;hui.

The new working group, composed of 9 members, will begin its work in January and will take 12 to 18 months before producing a report.

Director of National Labor Relations for the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada and member of the task force, David Yazbeck, notes that one difference this time around is that the review does not x27;is not statutory.

The 2017 review was triggered by law, while this review is voluntary. Mr. Yazbeck hopes this signals an intention by the government to make the necessary changes.

As the statutory review was limited to reviewing the Act, the scope of the new revision could be much broader, he anticipates.

In theory, someone could come up with a whole new law, Yazbeck said. So, in that sense, something new might come out of it.

According to the initial statement, the group will consider both the 2017 recommendations and research and #x27;Canadian and international experience.

In a statement, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents nearly 230,000 workers, says this new review will take far too long to address issues with the Act and will only replicate work done five years ago.

PSAC participated in the 2017 review and made several recommendations to make the Act more robust.

In 2017, the current government released a report on changes needed to the existing process to support public service workers who report wrongdoing, said PSAC National President Chris Aylward.

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“The report clearly indicated that the Act was not doing enough to protect whistleblowers and recommended already at the time of improvements. It is time for the government to act.

—Chris Aylward, PSAC National President

Mr. Turk and the PSAC both pointed out that recent international research puts Canada at the bottom of the list of countries when it comes to the protections afforded, both in law and in practice, to launchers. x27;alert.

According to a joint study by the Government Accountability Project and the International Bar Association, it is worrying that the legislation on the protection of throwers; alert in Canada is almost entirely inactive.

She recommends that legislation provide for periodic reviews of the effectiveness of laws, while using Canada as an example of a country where this protection is enshrined in law, but ignored in practice.

Only 8 whistleblowers representing 6 controversies were allowed to bring retaliation complaints to court between 2005 and January 2020, while 358 complaints were submitted to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner in this window, says the report.

As the Integrity Commissioner must approve whistleblowers' requests to initiate proceedings in court, this minimal track record demonstrates that the commissioner acts as an obstacle for those seeking to assert their legal rights, the report reads.

Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada protest in 2019 against the problematic Phoenix pay system . Turk said the entire Phoenix debacle could have been avoided if the country had stronger protections for whistleblowers.

Turk says the practical effects of the lack of protection mean that issues that go unreported can turn into crises, taking Phoenix's pay issues as an example.

The Phoenix Project was a disaster and cost Canada billions of dollars, remember.

If we had adequate whistleblower protection, people would have talked about this project, he believes. He was reportedly arrested in his tracks.

With information from CBC News

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