December 6, 2017
PROVINCE PROPOSES AMENDMENTS TO PUBLIC INTEREST DISCLOSURE (WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION) ACT
– – –
Amendments would Expand Act to Include School Divisions, School Districts and Municipalities: Friesen
The Manitoba government is proposing amendments to The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act that would include school divisions, school districts, municipalities by regulation, and enhance the powers of the provincial ombudsman, Finance Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.
“Expanding The Whistleblower Protection Act reaffirms our commitment to greater accountability and transparency throughout government, while furthering our open government initiative,” said Friesen. “Proposed amendments would enhance the investigative powers of the ombudsman, while further strengthening the protections for Manitobans who make disclosures from reprisal.”
Key changes in the proposed amendments would include:
- extending protections under the act to include school divisions and school districts and their employees;
- the government may, by regulation, identifying municipalities including the city of Winnipeg and local government districts, to fall under the act;
- disclosures would be handled by a designated official in a public body or by the ombudsman and the proposed amendments would strengthen and clarify their roles and investigatory powers;
- authorizing the ombudsman to receive and investigate reprisal complaints, and make recommendations to address acts or threats of reprisal;
- requiring that an investigator take steps to protect the identity and procedural rights of all people involved in the investigation;
- strengthening protection for whistleblowers, by prohibiting disclosure of the whistleblower’s identity in a civil court proceeding or a proceeding of an administrative tribunal; and
- a review of The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act every five years.
“Our government is committed to ensuring municipalities have a fair say; these amendments give local governments the decision on whether they opt-in to this framework,” Friesen noted.
“I am pleased to see the proposed amendments to The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act, which we’re advised would bring City of Winnipeg civic employees under statutory whistleblower protection similar to employees of the Province of Manitoba,” said Mayor Brian Bowman, City of Winnipeg. “This change was requested quite some time ago of the previous government but wasn’t implemented. I am grateful the current government has included our request in the amendments being proposed today.”
The minister noted the proposed amendments were developed in consultation with the Office of the Auditor General and the Office of the Ombudsman. The proposed changes also respond to a report by Dianna Scarth, who was commissioned to review existing legislation for effectiveness and to make recommendations for improvements, he added.
– 30 –
Published at Wed, 06 Dec 2017 14:52:00 -0500