Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

September 07, 2011 08:42 ET

Health Canada Whistleblowers Continue their Fight for the Public Good

PIPSC calls for judicial review of the case of Drs. Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gerard Lambert

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 7, 2011) - The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) supports the application for judicial review of the adjudication decision issued in early August by the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) in the case of whistleblowers Dr. Shiv Chopra, Dr. Margaret Haydon and Dr. Gérard Lambert. These scientists in the Veterinary Drugs Directorate of Health Canada were dismissed for "insubordination" by Health Canada officials, on July 14, 2004, after they expressed publically concerns about the approval of products they had reason to believe could have harmed the food chain and ultimately the lives of Canadians.

On August 4, 2011, the PSLRB dismissed seven of the eight grievances, except for the termination grievance of Dr. Lambert. The application for judicial review does not concern the one grievance that was upheld. The scientists are requesting that the adjudicator's decision on the seven grievances be set aside, or that the Court send the grievances back to a PSLRB adjudicator for reconsideration based on directions by the Federal Court and the record already before the PSLRB. The application argues that the employer, Health Canada, failed to address the grievances in context and in relation to each other, and failed to consider the particular nature of the scientific work and workplace at issue.

The adjudication decision has many implications for employees faced with the difficult realities associated with the disclosure of wrongdoing in a professional or scientific workplace. In the Institute's opinion, this decision did not help strike a balance between a professional's ethical and professional obligation to act in the public good and an employee's duty to abide by the employer's directives. On that basis and in light of the individual rights at issue in these grievances, the Institute is assisting Drs. Chopra, Haydon and Lambert in their application for judicial review of this decision.

PIPSC President Gary Corbett commented, "This case is the latest example of the government's inability to protect its employees who are ethically and legally compelled to come forward and speak out when public safety and the food supply is threatened. Although whistle-blowing legislation is now in place, its provisions obviously do not provide adequate and effective protection to public service employees who witness and denounce situations of wrongdoing. From our perspective, this sends yet another message that will dissuade public service employees from exposing wrongdoing and the case is of grave concern for the Institute."

PIPSC is the union representing federal scientists whose work impacts the daily lives of Canadians. Among the 60,000 members are 23,000 professionals who deliver, among other knowledge products, scientific research, testing and advice for sound policy-making.

Contact Information

  • Johanne Fillion
    (613) 228-6310 extension 2303
    (613) 883-4900 (cell)