For Employees

Recent amendments to the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act expands the protections for employees in the public service who report wrongdoing.  Learn more about the legislative amendments here.

 

The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act covers more than 185,000 Alberta employees within the following categories:

  • Provincial government departments;
  • Offices of the Alberta Legislature;
  • Provincial agencies, boards, commissions and Crown corporations with employees;
  • Public sector health organizations, including Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health, and Calgary Lab Services;
  • Post-secondary institutions;
  • School boards, charter schools, and accredited private schools that receive public funding.
  • Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and staff within their offices
  • Ministers and staff within their offices
  • The Premier and staff within the Premier’s office

What is a wrongdoing?

Wrongdoing is defined as:

  • a contravention of an Act, a regulation made pursuant to an Act, an Act of the Parliament of Canada, or a regulation made pursuant to an Act of the Parliament of Canada;
  • an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of individuals;
  • an act or omissions that creates a substantial and specific danger to the environment;
  • gross mismanagement of public funds or a public asset;
  • gross mismanagement of the delivery of a public service, including the management or performance of
    • a contract or arrangement identified or described in the regulations, including the duties resulting from the contract or arrangement or any funds administered or provided under the contract or arrangement, and
    • the duties and powers resulting from an enactment identified or described in the regulations or any funds administered or provided as a result of the enactment;
  • gross mismanagement of employees, by a pattern of behavior or conduct of a systemic nature that indicates a problem in the culture of the organization relating to bullying, harassment or intimidation;
  • knowingly directing or counselling an individual to commit a wrongdoing mentioned above.

 

What is a reprisal?

Reprisals can take many forms, and may include:

  • A dismissal, layoff, suspension, demotion or transfer, discontinuation or elimination of a job, change of work location, reduction in wages, changes in hours of work or a reprimand;
  • Any measure that adversely affects the employment or working conditions of the employee; or
  • A threat to take any of the previously mentioned actions.

 

HOW AM I PROTECTED?

Employees are protected from reprisal under the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act when they seek advice from a supervisor, their designated officer or from the Public Interest Commissioner, when they make a disclosure of wrongdoing, participate in the investigation of a disclosure, or who refuse to participate in a wrongdoing.

The Act gives employees a clear process for voicing concerns about significant and serious wrongdoing, and provides protection from reprisal, including:

  • Confidentiality
  • Anonymity
  • A legislated process for reporting and investigating wrongdoing
  • the legal ability to disclose confidential and private information
  • Strict penalties for those who commit a reprisal.  A reprisal is a prosecutable offence.

Employees also have the ability to obtain financial remedies in cases where the Commissioner finds a reprisal occurred. If, following an investigation, the Commissioner finds that a reprisal occurred, the Commissioner is obligated to refer the decision to the Labour Relations Board for determination as to the appropriate remedy. 

 

How Do I Make A COMPLAINT?

Employees can report a wrongdoing through their designated officer, or to the Public Interest Commissioner.  If you choose to report directly to the Public Interest Commissioner, you can do so by filling out the complaint form.

If you feel you have been the subject of a reprisal and wish to make a complaint, you may contact the Public Interest Commissioner’s office or submit an online complaint form.

 

SEEKING ADVICE

Employees can generally recognize when something is wrong.  Deciding what to do next is sometimes challenging.  As a first step, we encourage you to speak confidentially with one of our investigators.

Employees may also seek advice about making a disclosure with their designated officer or from their supervisor.  The conversation and the advice provided are confidential, and employees are protected from adverse employment action as a result of seeking this advice.

 

NEED MORE INFORMATION?

If you have any questions or need advice, contact the office of the Public Interest Commissioner directly at:

Toll-free (North America): 1-855-641-8659
Calgary: 403-592-3106
Edmonton: 780-641-8659
Or via email at info@pic.alberta.ca