Whistleblower Awareness Day Acknowledges Employee Courage
March 24, 2022 is Whistleblower Awareness Day. It’s a day for recognizing how difficult and yet how important it is to speak up if you are concerned about a possible wrongdoing in your workplace. Saskatchewan’s Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner, Mary McFadyen said, “I want to acknowledge the role of whistleblowers, particularly in the public sector, for having the courage to speak up if they think something is seriously wrong at work.”
How Saskatchewan Public Sector Employees Are Protected
The Public Interest Disclosure Act protects provincial public sector employees who speak out about specific types of wrongdoings. These include contravention of an Act or regulation, gross mismanagement of public funds or a public asset, or an act or omission that causes substantial and specific danger to the environment, or the life, health, or safety of another person. Employees are protected when they make a disclosure to a designated officer at their workplace or the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner. They are also protected when they seek advice about making a disclosure, refuse to take part in a wrongdoing, or participate in an investigation under the Act. If these employees suffer reprisals for doing so (e.g. job loss, demotion or loss of hours) they can make a complaint of reprisal to the Commissioner. Only the Commissioner can investigate complaints of reprisal. Anyone found to have committed a reprisal is guilty of an offence and can be fined up to $10,000.
Protections Expanding in the Health Sector
When The Public Interest Disclosure Act was introduced, employees of provincial government ministries, Crown corporations, and many agencies, boards, and commissions were protected under the Act. In December 2019, the Regulations were amended to include employees of the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. In May 2021, The Publicly-funded Health Entity Public Interest Disclosure Act received royal assent, but it has not yet come into force. When it comes into force, it will provide protections for employees of prescribed publicly-funded health entities, similar to the protections that exist under The Public Interest Disclosure Act.
If you have questions or wish to seek advice about making a disclosure or a complaint of reprisal, contact us at 1-800-667-9787. There is also more information in the PIDC section of our website.