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Wildrose proposes changes to beef up Whistleblower Protection Act

EDMONTON, AB (November 15, 2012): The Wildrose Official Opposition has put forward a package of amendments to Bill 4, the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act that will give would-be whistleblowers the true protection they will need to come forward and shed light on wrongdoing in the public sector. 

Leader Danielle Smith says the current version of the bill before the Legislature is flawed. By limiting who whistleblowers can report to and by not making it retroactive, the Act simply does not give all whistleblowers the protection they need, Smith said.  “Effective whistleblower protection is essential to healthy democracy. That’s why Wildrose campaigned on it and why we’ve come forward with these amendments,” Smith said.  “The government has compromised the effectiveness of Bill 4 by limiting where, when, and to whom it applies. We know how this bill can be fixed, but it will only be fixed if MLAs on all sides of the Legislature come together to do it. We believe our amendments will give Bill 4 the teeth it needs to be effective.”  Wildrose plans to table a total of 21 amendments to Bill 4 when the bill is debated next week. Included in the amendments are proposals to:

  • Include all provincially licensed health and seniors facilities under the Act
  • Protect all employees and volunteers working in public facilities and those facilities receiving public dollars
  • Cover political intimidation by including protection for speaking out against policies and procedures, not just criminal wrongdoing and ‘gross mismanagement’ of dollars
  • Include the Crown Prosecutor’s office to determine if political pressure, personal influence, or mismanagement has led to the dropping of cases
  • Make the legislation retroactive to Jan. 1, 2003
  • Allow whistleblowers to make a disclosure anonymously, seek a judicial review of their complaint, learn about whistle blowing policies anonymously, and avoid their identity being revealed to their department in the case of an emergency

Wildrose Service Alberta Critic Rod Fox said the legislation, as written, falls dramatically short of what Premier Redford promised as a PC leadership candidate. While she was running for the PC leadership, Redford said, “When you start saying (a whistleblower) must report to the ombudsman, you're being prescriptive again about the structure that is in place, in an effort to manage the information. I think that defeats the purpose. You either have open government or you don’t.”  “We need to arrive at the type of legislation that Premier Redford talked about before she became Premier,” Fox said. “That’s what the Wildrose amendments are about – finding ways to make this a law that will help us clean up government and make it more accountable to Albertans.”