The Public Interest Commissioner’s office provides a safe avenue for Alberta’s public sector employees to submit complaints of wrongdoing and reprisal occurring in their workplace.
Under the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (Act), the Commissioner’s office operates independently of government and is legislated to investigate allegations of wrongdoing or reprisal and make the appropriate recommendations. The Act provides the Commissioner with the authority to address a disclosure through informal resolution or through an investigation in which it will be determined if wrongdoing occurred.
In this year’s report, the overall number of complaints has remained consistent compared to the previous year, with 145 total cases received during 2022-23. Of the total cases received, 63 alleged serious wrongdoing had occurred in the workplace. While whistleblowers reported various concerns spanning a wide range of issues, a significant number referenced perceived maltreatment and possibly gross mismanagement of employees.
Investigations into allegations of gross mismanagement of employees are among the most complex undertaken by the Commissioner’s office. The process often includes interviews with dozens of witnesses to evaluate the full impact on the culture of an organization of any alleged acts or omissions. However, such investigations into disclosures relating to the gross mismanagement of employees are vital to maintaining healthy workplaces in Alberta’s public service.
An investigation into the medical care for patients at the Edmonton Remand Centre, found on page 19, is a key case in this year’s report. The Commissioner found systemic lapses in the medical care for incarcerated individuals including evidence that pain management and drug withdrawal protocols were not followed; gaps existed in the documentation of key patient vital signs records and standards of care were not met. The investigation led to recommendations and observations by the Commissioner and an acceptance of all recommendations by Alberta Health Services. This case is a model for what Alberta’s whistleblower protection legislation is intended to achieve. A whistleblower safely and confidentially brought forward concerns and AHS took substantial and meaningful steps to remedy the wrongdoing.
“In my first year as the Public Interest Commissioner, I have seen the value of the courageous people that reach out to our office to report wrongdoings in the public sector. I want to emphasize that our goal is to provide an avenue for public sector employees to safely and confidently report wrongdoings that may cause harm to the public interest.”
– Kevin Brezinski, Public Interest Commissioner
To download a copy of our 2022-23 annual report, visit our reports page here: yourvoiceprotected.ca/resources/publications/