The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection)
Act, SA 2012, c P-39.5 (the "Act") was
passed by the Alberta Legislature during the Fall Sitting and given
Royal Assent on December 10, 2012. The Act has not yet
come into force, but this is expected later this spring.
The legislation is designed to facilitate the disclosure and
investigation of significant matters that an employee believes may
be unlawful, dangerous to the public or injurious to the public
interest. It creates an Office of the Public Interest Commissioner,
which will be responsible for carrying out the duties assigned in
the Act. The Commissioner will be appointed by the
Although Regulations associated with the Act have not
yet been passed, this new regime is expected to apply to a broad
range of public sector employers including provincial agencies,
boards and commissions, as well as academic institutions, school
boards and health organizations.
The Act requires affected organizations to designate a
responsible officer and to establish detailed procedures that
facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoing, investigation of
disclosures, and reporting of investigative outcomes. Each
organization must also have procedures which ensure the
confidentiality of information collected and the protection of the
employee who makes the disclosure. Moreover, the legislation allows
for the Public Interest Commissioner to investigate disclosures
within affected organizations in certain circumstances.
Individuals who knowingly withhold material information, make a
false statement, obstruct an investigation, or retaliate against an
employee who makes a disclosure may be found guilty of an offence
under the Act.
Organizations which may be affected should be taking steps to
prepare for this legislation. Although a number of employers may
already have procedures in place which allow for employees to
report concerns, these procedures will need to be reviewed to
ensure they comply with the detailed processes which will be
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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In Shirbigi v. JM Food Services Ltd. (2014 BCSC 1927), the B.C. Supreme Court found that an employer could not mask the fact that it had constructively dismissed the plaintiff simply by relocating her place of work.