Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Policy in the Alberta Public Service and the applicability of the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act

Purpose of the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (the Act) The purpose of the Act is to give employees in the public service a safe and confidential avenue to report wrongdoing that may be unlawful, dangerous or injurious to the public interest.  The Act gives the Public Interest Commissioner the authority to investigate certain…

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The Alberta Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner Supports National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Alberta Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner’s offices will be taking time this September 30, 2021, to reflect on the tragic history of residential schools and all those affected.   Marianne Ryan, the Alberta Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner will be closing her offices on September 30th in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Her staff will be encouraged to commemorate the day and reflect on how the offices may continually…

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Keyano College backs whistleblowers to expose wrongdoing by former President and CEO

The Alberta Public Interest Commissioner releases her report into an investigation of wrongdoing involving the former President and CEO of Keyano College. The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act gives public sector employees within provincial public institutions the ability to report wrongdoing confidentially, and to be protected from reprisal for doing so. Using the Act,…

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Whistleblower Awareness Day

On March 24, 2021, organizations in various Canadian provinces working to achieve greater integrity in public services are proud to announce the creation of Whistleblower Awareness Day in order to raise public awareness of the role of whistleblowers in our society, as well as the awareness of the staff of government departments and agencies. The…

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Submission of Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner to the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship

22 Recommendations Made to Substantially Improve Alberta’s Whistleblower Protection Act The following document is a Review of the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act. It is a submission of Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner to the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship, the committee assigned responsibility to review the  Whistleblower Protection Act and prepare a report including…

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Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act undergoes legislative review

The second scheduled review of the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (the Act) is underway in accordance with the mandate of the Alberta Legislature to ensure the law continues to meet the evolving needs of Albertans. The general purpose of whistleblower protection legislation is to create safe environments for employees to bring forth allegations…

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Advice for managing complaints under the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (PIDA) relating to the COVID-19 public health emergency

A public health emergency was declared on March 17, 2020, as a result of pandemic COVID-19. Designated officers may receive complaints relating to the public health emergency which may fit into a category of “wrongdoing” under PIDA; however, the complaint reporting and investigation process under PIDA was not intended to be a mechanism for reporting…

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Notice of Temporary Closure

Effective immediately, the Public Interest Commissioner has made the decision to close her Edmonton office and support prevention of the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The health and well-being of our staff and visitors to our office remains of primary importance to us. We are closely monitoring this rapidly evolving situation to ensure our operational practices…

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A Brief Guide to Good Whistleblowing and Bad Faith

Whistleblowing: The Right Stuff Whistleblowing has been defined as a disclosure by an employee (current or former) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate wrongdoing within an organization.[1]  A whistleblower under Alberta’s Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (the Act) makes a disclosure of wrongdoing in good faith in relation to one of the five wrongdoings defined…

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Independent investigations into ICORE-related activities at AER find conflict of interest, gross mismanagement of public funds, and critical oversight failures

October 4, 2019 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada … Separate investigations by three independent officers of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta into activities at the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and the International Centre of Regulatory Excellence (ICORE) found a conflict of interest by the former CEO of AER, gross mismanagement and waste of public resources, and critical…

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Sharing a Common Goal

The purpose of the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (the Act) is to bring wrongdoing or cases of reprisal to the attention of a public sector organization so corrective measures can be taken. The Act allows for the reporting and investigation of wrongdoing to be conducted either internally by the designated officer, or by…

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Defining Mismanagement of Employees

Mismanagement of Employees Inappropriate workplace behavior such as bullying, harassment and intimidation adversely affects the wellbeing of individuals, and can have detrimental effects on overall employee morale and productivity. The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (the Act) has been amended so that as of March 1, 2018, the definition of wrongdoing now includes the gross mismanagement of employees through bullying,…

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Meet the Deputy Public Interest Commissioner

Peter Sherstan was sworn in as the Deputy Ombudsman and Deputy Public Interest Commissioner in August 2018.  In this dual role, he oversees four investigative teams and supports the Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner, Marianne Ryan, as she works toward, “. . . improving the lives of Albertans and making sure everyone gets a fair…

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Important Legislative Changes Take Effect March 1, 2018

EDMONTON – Today Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s second Public Interest Commissioner issued comments on the announcement that the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Amendment Act (the Act) will be proclaimed on March 1, 2018. These amendments provide important changes that expand the jurisdiction of the Public Interest Commissioner and protection for whistleblowers. Changes include expanding the…

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Commissioner staff to host information sessions in Grande Prairie and Peace River

Edmonton – Staff from the Public Interest Commissioner’s office will host an information session for Government of Alberta employees in Grande Prairie and Peace River.  Employees will learn about the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act, how the complaint process works, and how they are protected when they report wrongdoing.  Employees will also have an…

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New secure online forms available

If you want to disclose a wrongdoing or report a reprisal, our PDF forms have been replaced by new online submission forms. Should you submit a form via our website, your information will be sent to a secure and encrypted portal, where it will be reviewed by a Public Interest Commissioner investigator. Click here to access the…

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Investigation into allegations against the Department of Justice & Solicitor General concludes

The Public Interest Commissioner has concluded an investigation into allegations against the Department of Justice and Solicitor General. It was alleged the department interfered with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in a manner which contravened the Fatality Inquiries Act and the department grossly mismanaged the procurement for services to transport deceased persons.  It…

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Commissioner staff to host information session for Government of Alberta employees

Edmonton – Staff from the Public Interest Commissioner’s office will host informal information sessions for Government of Alberta employees.  Employees will learn about the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act, how the complaints process works, and how they are protected when they report wrongdoing.  Employees will also have an opportunity to meet with the Commissioner’s staff.…

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Records Management Investigation Reveals Lack of Effective Control, Accountability

The investigation into Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource regarding the alleged improper destruction of records in the wake of the 2015 provincial election resulted in troubling findings for the overall management of records. A joint investigation was launched by the Information and Privacy Commissioner and Public Interest Commissioner on May 13, 2015 during the transition…

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Procurement process investigation wraps up

On July 17, 2015, the Commissioner provided a report to the Chief Officers of Advanced Education and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures into allegations the procurement process used by the public entities had been manipulated. The Commissioner found wrongdoing existed. The Commissioner made five recommendations and three observations. The Chief Officers, in their written responses…

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An insider’s story: A whistleblower shares his experience with the Public Interest Commissioner

The whistleblower at the centre of the August 27, 2015 finding of wrongdoing at the department of Innovation and Advanced Education knew he was witnessing wrongdoing. The whistleblower reported that the manager was directing the manipulation of procurement documents at the department, as well as the arms-length agency Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures. The department’s…

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Wrongdoing found after manipulation of procurement process

EDMONTON – An investigation by Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner has found two managers with the Government of Alberta’s department of Innovation and Advanced Education and one manager with Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures committed wrongdoing. Between October and December 2014, the Commissioner received several disclosures of wrongdoing from a whistleblower, who alleged staff in both…

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Joint investigation launched into alleged improper destruction of records by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

The Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Public Interest Commissioner have opened a joint investigation into the alleged improper destruction of records by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) based on information received by the offices. Under section 53(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP Act), the…

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Whistleblower Commissioner can investigate breach of document disposal rules

Alberta government employees can contact the Office of the Public Interest Commissioner with concerns or allegations of wrongdoing related to improper disposal or shredding of documents during or following the current transition of government. “To knowingly breach rules related to the retention and destruction of records would be a contravention of the law, one of the definitions of wrongdoing…

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Conversation with a whistleblower

The following is an edited conversation with a whistleblower who disclosed an allegation of wrongdoing first to their employer, then to our office. To protect the whistleblower’s identity, we’ve removed details of the complaint, employer, and our investigation. But this individual’s comments illustrate the feeling many in the public service may have when they consider…

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The challenges of whistleblower oversight

By Peter Hourihan Public Interest Commissioner The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act came into effect on June 1, 2013, making Alberta the seventh provincial jurisdiction in Canada to enact such legislation.[1]  The enactment brought with it a number of challenges.  Some will require a shift in perspective while others will take time to meet.…

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Commissioner to release whistleblower report

July 21, 2014 Media are invited to a briefing with the Public Interest Commissioner to discuss findings of the investigation into the purchase and deployment of computers by Alberta Health Services. Copies of the investigation report will be available. The investigation was launched in January, following allegations of wrongdoing raised by a whistleblower. The Commissioner,…

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Public Interest Commissioner to investigate allegation of wrongdoing

Alberta’s Public Interest Commissioner has ordered an investigation related to an allegation raised publicly regarding Alberta Health Services’ procurement of computers. “Our aim is to ensure Albertans are confident public institutions deal with allegations of wrongdoing appropriately,” said Peter Hourihan, the Public Interest Commissioner. “We have assigned an investigator to look into allegations raised recently…

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