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This article was published 6/12/2017 (843 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba is proposing to extend whistleblower protection to school divisions and interested municipalities while strengthening safeguards to those who come forward and disclose potential wrongdoing.
The provincial government introduced legislation Wednesday to amend the 11-year-old Public Interest Disclosure Act.
Bill 5 would extend protections under the Act to school divisions and school districts and their employees. It would allow municipal governments, such as the City of Winnipeg, to be covered under the Act at their discretion and would authorize the provincial ombudsman to receive and investigate complaints about reprisals against whistleblowers, and to make recommendations to address threats and reprisals.
"We believe that these amendments are reasonable. We believe that they’re needed," said Finance Minister Cameron Friesen. "These protections, we believe, will benefit all Manitobans."
The Act currently applies to provincial government departments, Crown corporations, boards and commissions, child and family services authorities and agencies, regional health authorities, personal care homes, hospitals, universities and colleges, independent offices of the legislative assembly, and some other organizations that receive at least 50 per cent of their operating costs from government.
In a statement, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said he was pleased to see the amendments, which would provide civic employees with whistleblower protection similar to those afforded to provincial civil servants.
"This change was requested quite some time ago of the previous government but wasn't implemented," the mayor said. "I am grateful the current government has included our request in the amendments being proposed today."
The proposed amendments were developed in consultation with the auditor general's office and the ombudsman's office, Friesen said. The legislation also springs, in part, from the results of a review done by Dianna Scarth, former executive director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.
"I am very pleased to see these amendments to the legislation have been introduced," Manitoba's ombudsman, Charlene Paquin, said in an email to the Free Press. "My office has been supportive of many of the proposed changes for some time and feel they will strengthen the legislation and enhance the process."
The proposed amendments would also strengthen protection for whistleblowers by prohibiting disclosure of the whistleblower's identify in a civil court proceeding or a proceeding of an administrative tribunal.
Bill 5 would also ensure that a review of the Act is done every five years.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.