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Five years after requirements became law, has Treasury Board ensured that all federal government institutions provide legally-required whistleblower protection?

FAIR's analysis reveals suspiciously low levels of wrongdoing disclosure from 2007-2011 from all federal government institutions

Conservatives could have avoided the more than $500,000 payoff to former Integrity Commissioner if they had waited for Auditor General's report and Deloitte report

Conservatives' appointment of Interim Commissioner Mario Dion as full-time Integrity Commissioner raises 10 troubling questions -- will they finally keep their promises to make key changes to strengthen good government laws and enforcement?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

OTTAWA— Last June, the Globe and Mail reported that for CSIS, the Canadian Security Establishment and the Canadian Forces “five years after Parliament ordered federal departments to protect whistle-blowers... soldiers and spies still lack crucial protections that would allow them to highlight wrongdoing without risk to their careers.


This problem likely extends much farther than these three government institutions as there is some clear evidence that, five years after the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) became law, it is not being complied with or enforced effectively across the federal government.

Has the Treasury Board's Chief Human Resources Officer Daphne Meredith ensured, through audits and inspections, that all of the 154 federal government institutions subject to the PSDPA have in place a whistleblower protection system with a designated senior official and effective channels for internal reporting of suspected wrongdoing? (NOTE: Her office is responsible, under the Treasury Board's direction, for implementation of the PSDPA under sections 2, 4, 5, 10(4), 25, 38.1, 52, 54 and 54.3 of the PSDPA).

The federal Conservatives are currently drafting their international Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan to present at the OGP meeting in Brazil in April with Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird acting as the lead ministers for this process.  The PSDPA must also be reviewed by Parliament this spring.  The question is whether the Conservatives will, finally, keep the promises they made in 2006 to change many key laws to ensure effective whistleblower protection, and an open and ethical federal government?

An analysis by the Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR) of statistics provided in Treasury Board reports for fiscal years 2007-2008 through 2010-2011 indicates that:

  • Of the 154 organizations subject to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA), only 15 have found any wrongdoing during the past 4 years;
  • Four of the largest federal government institutions, that employ 140,000 public servants, have not found a single case of wrongdoing between them in the past 4 years;
  • Federal government institutions frequently fail to disclose details about wrongdoing, and some fail to disclose the reports on wrongdoing on their websites, and;
  • About 70% of public servants work for the 139 federal government institutions that have not reported any wrongdoing in the past four years.


"The fact that almost all federal government institutions have not found any wrongdoing in the past four years raises serious questions about whether they have effective whistleblower protection systems as required by the law," said David Hutton, Executive Director of FAIR. "The absence of disclosures of wrongdoing from many of the largest federal government institutions is especially a red flag, similar to the record of disgraced former Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet who found zero cases of wrongdoing during her three years in office despite receiving hundreds of disclosure complaints."

"There is clear evidence that the federal Conservatives have delayed effective whistleblower protection for five years since the law was passed, and the government must come clean about just how many institutions and agencies have failed to comply with the law, and how many are covering up wrongdoing,"
said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Chairperson of the Open Government Coalition.  "The Conservatives must also, finally, keep the promises they made in 2006 by making key changes to strengthen the whistleblower protection system to make it effective, and must strengthen other key good government laws in order to fulfill the commitments they have made to the international Open Government Partnership."


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David Hutton, Executive Director, Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform

Tel: (613) 567-1511

Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Chairperson of the Open Government Coalition
Tel: (613) 241-5179


To see FAIR’s analysis, click here.

To see the list of federal Senior Officers for disclosure of wrongdoing, click here.

To see the December 2010 report on former disgraced Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet by Auditor General Sheila Fraser, click here.

To see why a full audit is still needed of past cases that Ouimet failed to investigate properly, click here.

To see the list of needed reforms to the PSDPA, click here.

NOTE: FAIR and Democracy Watch call on federal parties to penalize Ouimet for her misconduct and claw back her obscene, undeserved $500,000 severance payoff (NOTE: The alliance has demanded that the payoff be cancelled and has also requested that the Auditor General audit the payoff and all other similar recent payoffs by the federal government).

Democracy Watch's Open Government Campaign page


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