Task force to review federal whistleblower regime lacks ‘lived experience’: Advocates

An advocacy group for those who disclose wrongdoing says it cannot support a new task force examining the federal whistleblower regime because it lacks someone with “lived experience” as a true whistleblower.

In a letter to Treasury Board President Mona Fortier, Whistleblowing Canada Research Society President Pamela Forward called the absence a « shocking omission. »

The group, which works to advance education and understanding of the phenomenon of whistleblowing, also raises concerns about the independence of the task force, given that four of the nine members are current or former employees at various levels. of government.

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Co-Chair Suzanne Craig is the Integrity Commissioner for the City of Vaughan, Ontario, while Co-Chair Mary McFadyen served as Ombudsman and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner for Saskatchewan.

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Fortier appointed the task force in late November to examine opportunities to improve the federal disclosure process and strengthen protections and supports for public officials who come forward to disclose wrongdoing.

The Treasury Board Secretariat says many of the task force members, who also include academics and labor representatives, were chosen following consultations with experts in the field and bring diverse expertise to the role.

“The review is expected to consult with a range of stakeholders, and we look forward to hearing their views as this important work progresses,” said Rola Salem, spokesperson for the secretariat.

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The review will also take into account recommendations from the 2017 report released by the House of Commons Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, which reviewed testimony from 52 witnesses, Salem said.

The task force will produce a public report with recommendations on possible amendments to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. The panel is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete its work.

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Although it opposes the government’s approach to the task force, the Ottawa-based whistleblower research firm agrees an independent review is needed as the 2017 Commons committee report « is now expired ».

“Since then, there has been a lot of new knowledge about the correct drafting and implementation of disclosure laws and mechanisms,” Forward wrote in the letter to Fortier.

She tells the minister that the task force should also include a member specializing in neuroscience research on the basis that the harassment and intimidation suffered by whistleblowers causes physical brain damage.

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