About whistleblower protection

Publish date: Wednesday, February 06, 2019 update

Given the recent news about government leaks, it might be timely to review the whistleblower protections (and the official disclosure process) that have been in place since 2006. Under the provisions of the Public Service of Ontario Act, current and former OPS employees are entitled to disclose cases of misconduct or wrongdoing (“blowing the whistle”) to an independent third party, with full protection from any reprisals and while still complying with their Oath of Office.  More information on the process is contained on the website of the Integrity Commissioner, the independent officer of the Legislature whose staff receive, investigate and report on alleged cases of wrongdoing. 

Did you know, however, that AMAPCEO was instrumental in getting the government to finally establish whistleblower protection? The first attempt to codify whistleblower protection occurred in the 1990s when the NDP government adopted amendments to the former Public Service Act.  These provisions, although passed by the Legislature, were never proclaimed by the government, with the result that they remained on the books, but were unenforceable, for over a decade - through the regimes of Premiers Bob Rae, Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.   

When the Dalton McGuinty government was elected in 2003, AMAPCEO immediately called for the implementation of whistleblower protections, since the Liberals had supported them in Opposition.  Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips set up a unit to review the entire Public Service Act and invited AMAPCEO’s participation.  We submitted three extensive briefs to the government and met in person with the unit a number of times.  When the legislation was introduced in November 2006, virtually all of our recommendations had been accepted. On the strength of the work of our Research Officer, Jonathan Carson, we had no hesitation in pronouncing Ontario’s legislation the strongest whistleblower protections in Canada.  

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in eleven cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth; Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; Public Health Ontario; Health Quality Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council and the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner.

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