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News January 30, 2023

Report: Saskatchewan whistleblower protection legislation missed the mark

In its fourth report analyzing adequacy of whistleblower protection laws in Canada, the Centre for Free Expression finds Saskatchewan’s Public Interest Disclosure Act fails on all criteria.

 “Despite some best practices, the [Saskatchewan Act] fails all categories of the evaluation criteria,” the report notes. “[T]o the credit of the Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner, some of these problems have been acknowledged and corrective action recommended.”

The report highlights six specific areas for improvement. These include expanding protected disclosure to all workers, including 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 monitoring and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the legislation every five years using meaningful performance indicators and data.

In a letter to the Saskatchewan Government, CFE Director James L. Turk says that the CFE would be pleased to assist the government in preparing amendments to the Act that would allow it to become a model for the rest of the country.

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.