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News November 14, 2022

BC whistleblower protection legislation fails on all major criteria

In the second of a series of reports about the adequacy of whistleblower protection in Canada, British Columbia’s legislation received a failing grade on all major criteria necessary to protect whistleblowers.

Issued by the Centre for Free Expression (CFE) at Toronto Metropolitan University, the report measures the provisions of the B.C. legislation against Evaluation of Criteria for Protection of Whistleblowers developed by researchers at the Centre.

“Although B.C.’s Public Interest Disclosure Act has some strengths, it suffers from many of the same flaws found in other Canadian whistleblowing statutes…failing all categories of the CFEWI criteria”, the report finds.

Missing from the B.C legislation are broad definitions of wrongdoing and reprisal, diverse reporting avenues and methods, a means to escalate disclosures to the public when they are not dealt with properly, and a duty to proactively protect whistleblowers from reprisal from the moment they make a disclosure.

The report was prepared by Dr. Ian Bron, senior fellow at the CFE who is a leading expert on whistleblowing and a member of the CFE Whistleblowing Initiatives Steering Committee.

“We are pleased that the B.C. Ombudsperson has expressed a commitment to continual monitoring, review, and improvement of the law in practice and hope this commitment will be shared by the current or future British Columbia governments,” said James L. Turk, director of the Centre for Free Expression.

Turk said reports assessing each of the remaining eight provinces’ whistleblower protection legislation will be issued over the coming year, culminating in the evaluation of the federal whistleblower protection act in September 2023. Next month’s report will be on whistleblower protection in Nova Scotia.

The Centre for Free Expression is a non-partisan platform focused on freedom of expression – the human right to hold opinions and to seek, receive, and share information and ideas. It works in collaboration with academic and civil society organizations across Canada and internationally and is based in The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University.