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Bill 5–The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Amendment Act

Wednesday May 23 I spoke at third reading on Bill 5 a bill which deals with the protection of whistleblowers.  Bill 5 makes some changes to the original act, specifically bringing school divisions and municipalities and their employees under the act.  For school divisions, it is obligatory that they are under the act.   For municipalities it is voluntary whether a municipality decides to come under the act.   My comments (from Hansard) are below:

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Yes, Madam Speaker, I want to make a few comments. The inclusion, as this bill does, of school districts and school divisions and their employees and municipalities is good.  However there needs to be some assurance that things will move forward so that municipalities are all covered. There may be some concern that only some municipalities will come in on this bill and others will not, and probably the difficulty will be that those, where there's most problems, will be the ones which don't come in or decide not to come into the legislation. So I have some concerns in that respect.
      I also have a couple of concerns in an era where governments of all sorts are doing some contracting out or subcontracting, that it seems to me that it would be logical to include in some fashion the employees of the contractors and subcontractors, because they may have important information to come forward which deals with the project that the government is working on and with the function of the government and the supervision of the government of that project or supervision by a Crown corporation or by a school board.  This is an area which I believe would be worthwhile looking at and, in fact, providing some coverage to the employees of contractors or subcontractors so that they can, where they have information, provide information which can be helpful.
      The second area which I believe needs some attention is that this protects against reprisals, but it doesn't speak at all to a circumstance where an employee is given money not to speak up or is essentially bribed. That may be covered in other ways, under laws, but I think it would be important to make sure that that circumstance is covered so that whistle-blowers are not being given a bribe.  It's not really a threat, in a sense, but it is a problem, and one that we need to make sure is not happening and that there should be some protection, as we've seen in recent times where there have been issues which could be brought forward, but people are being given incentives not to bring them forward. And I don't think that's a good idea that we're not dealing with that. 
      So, with those comments, I think we still have some way to go. But this bill 5 we'll accept, and support, as a step forward.

Comments

  1. You make good points, Jon. Congrats on seeking to make Manitoba a more honest place. Great talking with you this evening on this very important issue. ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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