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News August 10, 2023

CFE Report finds Newfoundland and Labrador law provides little protection for those speaking up about wrongdoing

In its seventh report analyzing adequacy of whistleblower protection laws in Canada, the Centre for Free Expression (CFE) finds Newfoundland and Labrador’s Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act fails on all criteria.

 “The Public Interest Disclosure Whistleblower Protection Act fails all categories of the [evaluation] criteria,” the report concludes.” This is mainly due to 'critical weaknesses', shortcomings which experience has shown fatally undermine whistleblowing regimes.”

The CFE report highlights six specific areas for improvement. These include expanding protected disclosure to include former employees, contractors, temporary staff, interns, volunteers, and job applicants, and mandating the proactive protection of workers making disclosures, informed by a risk assessment.

Other vital changes necessary are establishing a reliable and effective process for workers to obtain injunctive or interim relief from reprisals while investigations are ongoing; establishing a standard for proving reprisal that shifts the burden of proof to the organization once the worker has established a prima facie case of reprisal; setting high standards for investigations and investigators, including for competence and timeliness; and requiring meaningful performance indicators and data to be gathered to support routine monitoring and the evaluation or audit of the regime every five years..

In a letter to the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier, the Hon. Andrew Furey, CFE Director James L. Turk says that the CFE would be pleased assist the province by providing more detail both as to the problems with the province’s current Act and what steps the government could take to remedy them in the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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.