Iqaluit city council passes motion to protect whistleblowers
Motion passed unanimously with one amendment
Iqaluit city council passed a motion Tuesday evening to put in place a whistleblower protection policy and procedure for all city employees and elected officials.
The motion passed unanimously with an amendment to include a definition of the term “ethical” in the policy document.
“The City of Iqaluit wishes to provide, through this policy a safe and neutral process regarding disclosure, reporting, investigation and subsequent outcomes of alleged wrongdoing within the city,” the policy states.
The policy states it strictly applies to allegations of wrongdoing, which it further defines as an “act of gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, serious and/or gross misconduct.”
The policy states it does not apply to instances where an employee does not agree with a decision made by a supervisor or any level of management in the city.
“This policy is not an appeal measure or process for such circumstances,” it states.
In the new policy, complaints involving council members are to go through Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer, while complaints involving the CAO will go through the city’s human resources department.
The policy’s procedure for whistleblowing states an employee who chooses to use the policy must first provide a detailed written report to the director of human resources before an investigation is opened.
Reports are then reviewed by the director of human resources or another designated person.
Although the policy encourages employees to report matters to their manager using already established channels of authority, employees can make a report through this policy “particularly if they fear retaliation.”
“If a report about an employee is substantiated, the appropriate disciplinary action will be taken and may result in termination and/or criminal charges or other appropriate remedies,” the policy says.
An employee can choose to remain anonymous in their report. But anonymity could make an investigation difficult if the source of the information is unidentifiable or “insufficient information has been provided,” the policy says.
Allegations must be reported within six months of the date of the incident or unethical behaviour, except in the case of illegal activity. In that case, there is no time limit, the policy says.
But reports about retaliation, where action is taken against a person who has reported an alleged wrongdoing, must be reported immediately. The policy outlines dismissal from employment or threats to dismiss from employment, harassment or abuse, or intimidation as examples of retaliation.
The policy also notes that reports must be made about current employees only, except in the case of illegal activities.
“If a report about an employee is substantiated, the appropriate disciplinary action will be taken and may result in termination and/or criminal charges or other appropriate remedies,” the document states.
The city may also choose to engage a third party to provide investigative services, the policy says.
The document also includes a lengthy list of definitions for terms included in the policy, including explanations for “anonymous,” “confidential” and “serious misconduct.”
The policy outlines that city employees working at a management level will support and promote the policy, while the city’s human resource department is tasked with managing the whistleblower program.