Whistleblower protection needed

Last week, the full extent of Premier Alison Redford’s broken health inquiry promise was made known to Albertans.

Last week, the full extent of Premier Alison Redford’s broken health inquiry promise was made known to Albertans.

Retired Justice John Vertes found numerous examples of queue-jumping in his final inquiry report but was prevented from really getting to the bottom of why it occurred. The reason? Premier Redford failed to deliver on her promise to hold a sweeping inquiry that would investigate allegations of bullying and intimidation in the health care system.

The findings point to an alarming trend of preferential access for people who know how to pull the right strings. While the retired Justice ends his report unsure of whether “there are simply too many holes to plug” in the system, Albertans know they deserve better.

Albertans deserve a fair system that treats everyone equally regardless of their profession or how closely associated they are with executives at Alberta Health Services or the PC government. Albertans deserve a system where you don’t have to be a professional hockey player to get the H1N1 vaccination or quality care.

If ever whistleblower protection was needed and would have helped, it was in these instances. The widespread system of jumping wait lines reveals the weaknesses in the health care system the PC government has so far failed to address, such as the failure to provide meaningful protection for whistleblowers.

Last session, the PCs crafted new whistleblower laws but instead of protecting whistleblowers, only protect government. The new laws help government agencies cover their tracks and make it nearly impossible for whistleblowers to bring to light wrongdoing without harsh consequences.

As Justice Vertes notes in his findings, nothing in this legislation covers health care professionals or doctors. It’s almost as if the PCs went out of their way to draft legislation that would bury problems in the system rather than bring them to light.

Under this new law, whistleblowers report to their direct superiors. That would be like reporting on your boss to your boss. There is clearly an incentive to just put up with whatever abuse of taxpayer dollars may be occurring under this flawed legislation.

Alberta needs strong whistleblower protection with the teeth to defend people who put their careers on the line to bring to light wrongdoing and attempt to improve the operations of government. Last fall, the PCs shot down 21 sensible amendments from the Wildrose Official Opposition that would have improved the legislation and would have allowed doctors and health care providers to expose wrongdoing.

A government that truly respects taxpayer dollars should now see the opportunity to revisit the whistleblower laws and beef them up to prevent future instances like this.

As MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, I value your feedback. Feel free to share your thoughts on this or any other matter with my office at Lacombe.Ponkoka@assembly.ab.ca.