OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 21, 2017) - Parliament must favour whistle blowing and remove the barriers in the way of whistle blowers, said PIPSC President Debi Daviau at a parliamentary hearing on whistle blower protection.
"Whistle blowing is a service to the public," said Daviau. "Whistle blowing has also meant sacrificing your career for the sake of public interest. It shouldn't be that way."
Daviau referred to the cases of PIPSC scientists Dr. Shiv Chopra, Dr. Margaret Haydon and Dr. Gerard Lambert who blew the whistle over concerns about the veterinary drug approval process within Health Canada.
"They knew that the drugs given to cattle could have made each and every one of us sick. They put their careers on the line to save the public from potential illness," said Daviau. "What did they get in return? Fifteen years in litigation."
PIPSC presented a three-point action plan to strengthen protections for whistle blowers:
1. Fix the investigation process under the Public Service Integrity Commissioner.
The Commissioner's investigation processes are often unfair, lack thoroughness, and are insufficiently sensitive to whistleblowers. They require unnecessary litigation and result in unacceptable delays.
2. Eliminate the Public Service Integrity Commissioner's gatekeeper role and replace it with a "direct access" system.
The commissioner's gatekeeper role in respect of reprisal complaints means that only the Commissioner can decide which complaints are referred to the Tribunal. The process has given the Commissioner enormous discretion in determining how reprisal complaints are dealt with, meaning very few reprisal complaints have been referred to the Tribunal.
3. Close the outsourcing accountability loophole.
Federal over-reliance on outsourcing is creating a shadow public service, which has become a massive loophole when it comes to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. The Act has no jurisdiction over private companies that receive government contracts. As a result, it provides no protection to contract workers who want to blow the whistle on wrongdoing.
Daviau also affirmed PIPSC's support for reversing the onus of reprisal in law. Reprisal against whistleblowers who disclose wrongdoing is often difficult to prove. As a result, it is rare that one could find a "smoking gun" which would assist in proving that reprisals have taken place.
PIPSC represents some 55,000 public-sector scientists and other professionals across the country, the majority of which are employed by the federal government.
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