Protecting workers - an appeal to the Premier with respect to the investigation of the death of Todd Maytwayashing
Earlier today in Question Period, I asked the Premier for reassurances that individuals who come forth with information about the death of Todd Maytwayashing will be protected so that they will not lose their jobs or suffer in any other way. Below is from Hansard.
Workplace Death Case Concern - Whistleblower Protection
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, with respect to the death of Todd Maytwayashing, on the May the 7th the Premier (Mr. Pallister) said that he's taken this issue on personally and seriously. The family and I appreciate the Premier's personal interest and, indeed, his visit to the family home a month ago today.
There is, indeed, an area where the Premier can help. I understand that there are others, including in the gallery today, who are ready to come forward to talk about the situation, but are reluctant to do so for fear of losing their job.
Can the Premier tell the family members who are here today that he will make a statement or take action which would protect such individuals so that they feel comfortable in coming forward?
Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): I would give assurance to anyone who has information that they would like to bring forward in the process of investigating this tragedy to bring that forward without fear of repercussions of any kind. They deserve to feel entirely confident and safe in doing so and I think all of us here share a desire to make sure that the information that the family is desiring to receive is received by them as soon as possible.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.
Whistleblower Protection Legislation - Coverage for Contract Employees
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, I thank the Premier for that assurance. It's really all about making sure that all the information possible on the circumstances is available.
Now, we know that employees of Manitoba Hydro are protected under the whistleblower protection act, but as I understand it, employees of a private contractor like the Forbes Bros. would not be protected even though the company is doing contract work for Manitoba Hydro.
Would the Premier consider an amendment to the whistleblower protection act to include coverage for employees of companies working under contract to the government or to a Crown corporation like Manitoba Hydro?
Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): Madam Speaker, I don't wish to be harsh with the member but I would say it would be with great reluctance that I would enter into a policy discussion centered around and using as its focal point the tragic death of a worker in our province, and so I would reserve comment in respect to his suggestion.
With all due respect, I'd ask him to use the channels available to all of us here as members in order to effect change. If he believes that change to be one he wishes to advocate, I encourage him to do so.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.
Mr. Gerrard: I thank the Premier and I appreciate his circumstances.
I suggest there is an opportunity, potentially, to work together to address the situation and improve worker safety. Currently, Bill 5, an amendment to the whistleblower protection act, is before the Legislature. With all‑party agreement, it would be possible to expand the coverage of the whistleblower protection act to include coverage for employees of companies working under contract to the government or under contract to a Crown corporation like Manitoba Hydro. This would be desirable for a number of reasons.
I wonder: If we brought it forward, would the Premier consider the possibility of an all‑party agreement for such an amendment?
Mr. Pallister: Again, feeling deeply, as I think we all do, the tragedy this family is going through and has experienced, I will repeat nothing, Madam Speaker. I believe I've addressed the member's concerns with my second response.