Why Whistleblowing is Good for Vancouver

whistleblowThe City of Vancouver and its three Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals are back at the negotiating table this week, and not a moment too soon. Like everyone else, Think City is hopeful the points of dissonance keeping the two sides from reaching an agreement can be resolved.

Among the more curious aspects of the now 54 day-old municipal stalemate is the stall-out over language around employee protection for reporting wrong-doing at city hall. For those on the outside looking in, it's hard to see what the debate is about. Whistleblower protection, the name usually given to such protective measures, seems to be a no-brainer for the interests of municipal accountability.

As this week's Georgia Straight points out, in cases where employees have blown the whistle on organizational or governmental wrong-doing the perils of not having whistleblower protection have included harassment, intimidation, and loss of employment.

Whistleblower protection is far from a perfect solution but it does provide a modest baseline of security. This type of security is an important component of the system of checks and balances that are in place in our civic institutions. In fact, it's surprising this sort of protection isn't already part of the city's human resources practices.

And so, CUPE Local 15, the union that represents the city’s inside workers, wants whistleblower protection embedded in the new collective agreement, proposing language similar to that used by the City of Surrey – which Vancouver's own city council has already endorsed.

However, senior management suggest it was waiting for Mayor Sullivan and council to meet this fall to develop a policy that would apply to all staff, not just unionized employees. They further suggest that it would be “inappropriate” to proceed on this prior to council’s autumn deliberation.

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