Whistleblowers who bring wrongdoing to light in Manitoba public-sector entities will have greater protections effective December 1, 2018.
Amendments to The Public Interest Disclosure Act have been made to facilitate the disclosure and investigation of serious wrongdoing within public-sector entities and protect employees who report it was announced by Finance Minister Scott Fielding on Friday, November 30, 2018.
Municipalities across Manitoba were given the choice to opt in to the provincial framework earlier this year by council resolution. Both Brandon and Winnipeg have opted in.
“Manitoba is the first jurisdiction in Canada to expand the scope of whistleblower legislation to include municipalities and local governments,” said Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton. “We are ensuring municipalities have a fair say in deciding whether to opt in or enhance their own rules at the local level because we know one size does not fit all. We invite all municipalities to consider joining the newly enhanced provincial framework.”
“These changes establish a stronger ethical environment with better protections from reprisal for Manitobans who make disclosures. We thank Winnipeg and Brandon for their leadership in opting in to this framework,” said Fielding.
Employees of municipalities who opt in to the framework will be protected under the provincial legislation should they choose to disclose any wrongdoing. The legislation protects the employee from reprisal.
I’m pleased to see the provincial government instituting the legislative changes requested by the City of Winnipeg so civic employees can feel safer if incidents of wrongdoing need to be reported in the workplace,
Brandon has had a whistleblower policy in place since 2011 but joined the provincial framework in order to strengthen what was already in place.
“It allows more consistency, protection and ‘teeth’, so to speak, for those employees who may want to bring an issue or wrongdoing to someone’s attention or would like to see the ability to report beyond the internal municipal system,” said Mayor Rick Chrest, City of Brandon.
The act also adds protection to Manitoba school divisions and their employees as well as:
• adding municipalities by regulation;
• authorizing the ombudsman to receive and investigate reprisal complaints, and make recommendations to address acts or threats of reprisal;
• clarifying which disclosures are to be investigated by a designated officer of a public body and which by the ombudsman, and strengthening the investigatory powers of designated officers;
• 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
• ensuring a review of The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act is conducted every five years.
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