The Alberta government is opening the doors to public disclosure of wrongdoing in the public sector by introducing key legislation that delivers on its promise to do business with greater openness and transparency.
“We promised a fundamental change in the way government works and this new Act is a critical part of that pledge to Albertans,” said Premier Alison Redford. “By putting whistleblower protection in place we will continue to lead the way in open, accountable government.”
The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act will apply to the Alberta Public Service, provincial agencies, boards and commissions, as well as academic institutions, school boards and health organizations. Under the proposed legislation, an Office of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner will be created to investigate and resolve complaints by employees who report violations of provincial or federal law; acts or omissions that create a danger to the public or environment; and gross mismanagement of public funds.
Whistleblower legislation will protect employees who make disclosure from reprisals, such as wrongful dismissal, and creates a process for the disclosure of wrongdoing. The penalty for offences under the Act is $25,000 for the first conviction to a maximum of $100,000 for subsequent offences.
“With this new legislation, Albertans have the assurance that the protection of the public interest is absolutely paramount,” said Manmeet S. Bhullar, Minister of Service Alberta. “It protects employees, provides an avenue for ethical disclosure and opens government in a new way. It is a key component of the transformation Premier Redford has committed to.”
“This legislation is a significant move toward ensuring integrity in the operation of public bodies,” said Don Scott, Associate Minister of Accountability, Transparency and Transformation. “Whistleblower protection will create a safe space for public disclosure of wrongdoing in the best interests of all Albertans.”
The legislation would come into force upon proclamation expected on June 1, 2013. This will allow appropriate regulations to be developed and public bodies time to create policies and procedures to comply with the Act.