News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

November 30, 2018

PROVINCE ADVISES NEW WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS COME INTO EFFECT DEC. 1

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Stronger Ethical Environment with Better Protections; Winnipeg and Brandon Opting-in: Fielding

Amendments to The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (PIDA) are coming into effect Dec. 1 to facilitate the disclosure and investigation of serious wrongdoing within public-sector entities and protect employees who report it, Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced today.

“We have taken action to ensure greater accountability and transparency across multiple levels of government,” said Fielding.  “These changes establish a stronger ethical environment with better protections from reprisal for Manitobans who make disclosures.  We thank Winnipeg and Brandon for their leadership in opting in to this framework.”

Earlier this year the Manitoba government passed legislation to strengthen the province’s ethical framework and enable municipalities to opt in by council resolution.  The legislation also extends protections to school divisions and districts, and enhances the investigative powers of the provincial ombudsman.

“Manitoba is the first jurisdiction in Canada to expand the scope of whistleblower legislation to include municipalities and local governments,” said Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton.  “We are ensuring municipalities have a fair say in deciding whether to opt in or enhance their own rules at the local level, because we know one size does not fit all.  We invite all municipalities to consider joining the newly enhanced provincial framework.”  

Wharton noted there will be ongoing opportunities to opt in and the province continues to work collaboratively with municipalities to gauge their interest.  For those that choose to opt in, their employees could make a disclosure of wrongdoing and will be protected from reprisal under the legislation, he added.
 
“I’m pleased to see the provincial government instituting the legislative changes requested by the City of Winnipeg so civic employees can feel safer if incidents of wrongdoing need to be reported in the workplace,” said Mayor Brian Bowman, City of Winnipeg.  “This is one of many important measures initiated by city council over the last four years that will help to ensure city hall becomes even more open and accountable.”

“While the City of Brandon has had its own whistleblower policy in place since 2011, opting in to a provincewide legislative framework strengthens what we already have in place,” said Mayor Rick Chrest, City of Brandon.  “It allows more consistency, protection and ‘teeth’, so to speak, for those employees who may want to bring an issue or wrongdoing to someone’s attention or would like to see the ability to report beyond the internal municipal system.  As Manitoba’s second-largest municipal government, we are pleased to provide leadership in this regard.”

“The AMM recognizes the City of Winnipeg and City of Brandon for deciding to opt in to the PIDA framework,” said Ralph Groening, president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM).  “We look forward to working with the Province of Manitoba and other municipalities who may choose to do so as well.”

Fielding noted the legislative changes were developed in consultation with the Office of the Auditor General and the Office of the Ombudsman.  Key changes coming into effect include:

  • extending protections under the act to include school divisions and districts, and their employees;
  • adding municipalities by regulation;
  • authorizing the ombudsman to receive and investigate reprisal complaints, and make recommendations to address acts or threats of reprisal;
  • clarifying which disclosures are to be investigated by a designated officer of a public body and which by the ombudsman, and strengthening the investigatory powers of designated officers;
  • requiring that an investigator take steps to protect the identity and procedural rights of all people involved in the investigation;
  • strengthening protection for whistleblowers, by prohibiting disclosure of the whistleblower's identity in a civil court proceeding or a proceeding of an administrative tribunal; and
  • ensuring a review of The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act is conducted every five years.

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