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 of wrongdoing in accountable public sector organizations and professional workplaces. Under the Act’s mandate, the Public Interest Commissioner facilitates the disclosure and investigation of significant and serious matters in or relating to departments, public entities, offices or prescribed service providers that an employee believes may be unlawful, dangerous to the public or injurious to the public interest.
The Act calls for a review every five years and this will be the second review since the legislation came into effect. Periodic review is beneficial and section 37 of the Act describes a clear process for “…a special committee established by the Legislative Assembly…” to complete the task.
On June 15, 2020, the Alberta Legislative Assembly referred the Act’s review to the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship (the committee). In 2015, the Select Special Ethics and Accountability Committee undertook a similar review and resulting amendments expanded the Commissioner’s jurisdiction and strengthened protections for whistleblowers.
To assist in the Act’s review process, and at the committee’s request, the Commissioner will provide technical advice and recommendations for potential changes. As an independent Officer of the Alberta Legislative Assembly and administrator of the Act, the Commissioner can provide expert advice into public disclosure processes and whistleblower protection. To prepare, the office has initiated its own internal review of the legislation, including a cross-jurisdictional scan of other public interest disclosure legislation across Canada and beyond.
To view the video transcript of the Commissioner’s first technical briefing on October 26, 2020, please visit the Legislative Assembly’s webpage here.
Stakeholders and members of the public wishing to respond to the committee’s invitation for written submissions may do so before 4:30pm on Monday, November 30, 2020. To access the online submission form and share thoughts about the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act please visit the committee webpage here.