New whistleblower policy released for Prince Edward Island’s public service

The government of Prince Edward Island has released a new whistleblower protection policy it says will strengthen the province’s public service.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan says the policy supports employees and recognizes “the vital role they have in speaking truth to power.”

The policy provides a procedure for reporting wrongdoing as well as protection from reprisal for public sector employees who make good faith attempts to report wrongdoing.

Wrongdoing includes violation provincial or federal law, the gross mismanagement of public funds or government assets, an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of persons or the environment, or directing others to engage in those activities.

Under the policy employees may make a disclosure to a supervisor, deputy minister, or the Ethics and Integrity Commissioner on a confidential basis.

The Commissioner will be responsible for resolving the matter by either referring it for investigation or by conducting an investigation.


CBC announces plans to sell off all buildings in midst of election campaign

CBC announced September 22, 2015 at a town hall for staff that it is selling all its property across the country, including major production facilities in Montreal and Toronto. These buildings were paid for by Canadians to allow the public broadcaster to produce quality original Canadian programming purely in the public interest. The announcement confirms a trend to strip CBC of that ability.

“The decision to close down production centres is of great concern for our members as it should be for all Canadians, and seriously jeopardizes the CBC’s ability to do meaningful production in the future,” said Marc-Philippe Laurin, CBC Branch President for the Canadian Media Guild (CMG). ‘Our members believe the public broadcaster can’t only be a distributor, it has to also be a producer. This plan threatens the ongoing legacy of award- winning documentaries, drama and other quality production at CBC and Radio Canada.”

These decisions most likely stem from the continuing and tremendous financial difficulties facing our national public broadcaster, a fact CBC President Lacroix acknowledged earlier this month.

“It makes no sense to plan this now, when three of the four national parties are promising to restore or increase funding to CBC,” says CMG National President Carmel Smyth. “Just today the Liberal party committed to increasing CBC funding by $150 million. In recent months the Green Party committed to an increase of $285-million, while the NDP says it will reverse the $115-million budget cut.  Why rush into such an irreversible decision now?”

In the words of former CBC President and Canadian cultural icon, Pierre Juneau:

“Public television cannot merely be a programmer. The particular ethics of public broadcasting demand that programs be designed with particular care. This requirement implies that the public broadcaster should also become involved in audiovisual production. While public broadcasters may buy or commission some programs, in-house production not only guarantees that programs will adequately meet the purpose of the broadcaster, but also ensures the perenniality of expertise—some would say a “culture” of creativity—particular to the public broadcaster.”

And as the Parliamentary Budget Officer pointed out earlier this year, asset sales are only a temporary fix. “Proceeds from one-time asset sales give the CBC a temporary cash infusion, which allows it to defer part of the Government’s operating subsidy until later in the fiscal year.”

The CBC has also cut more than 2,800 jobs since 2008 and has plans to cut another 1,600 by 2020.

Security expert calls move ‘reckless’ and ‘absolutely irresponsible’

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Provinces working to resolve new mother’s air ambulance bill

Kendra Mangione, 

The Ontario and Alberta governments are working together to resolve a hefty bill handed to a mother after prematurely giving birth in northern Ontario.

Amy Savill, from High Prairie, Alta., was vacationing in Ontario last month when she unexpectedly went into labour two months before her due date.

Her family initially took her to a hospital in the northern Ontario city of Timmins, where she was told that staff were not equipped to handle births under 32 weeks. An air ambulance was arranged to take her to Sudbury, at an estimated cost between $10,000 and $30,000. Savill received the bill on Monday, but hasn’t disclosed the exact amount, saying only that “it’s in the thousands of dollars.”

Savill initially thought one of the provincial governments would pick up the tab, but she discovered she was on the hook for the cost of the pilots, paramedics, and the helicopter itself.

“My first concern is for the mom and the baby. I’m happy that both are doing well,” Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins told CTV Toronto at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

Hoskins said, when he first heard about the incident he asked his chief of staff to get in touch with the Alberta Ministry of Health.

“We’re working together to see how we might find a resolution,” Hoskins said.

He said he’s “hopeful” that Savill will not have to pay the bill.

Savill told CTV Northern Ontario that she’d heard from the office of the Alberta health minister since receiving the bill. She said the minister asked to see a copy of her bills, and told her that the ministry was working with Hoskins to find a solution.

“They haven’t guaranteed anything, but they wanted to at least take a look at it,” Savill said Wednesday.

For his part, Hoskins said Savill’s case will be raised at the next provincial and territorial meeting.

“It speaks to a bigger issue, a Canadian issue, of insuring that Canadians of any province or territory can have confidence when they travel throughout the country.”

Savill said the Alberta minister told her there may be some federal policy changes coming as a result of her case.

“We’re really proud to have brought that forward. I think they maybe weren’t even aware that it was an issue before,” Savill said, adding that she looks forward to telling the story to her newborn daughter when she grows up.

“Hopefully, one day she can look back and realize her crazy entrance into this world has brought some good change, so other people don’t have to go through this hard time that we’re having right now.”

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