Whistleblower protection fails with Public Service Labour Relations Board decision

Three of Canada's best know whistleblowers from Health Canada received the decision last week as to whether they would be re-instated to their former positions after seven years of legal battle.

Whistle on top of Conservative "C"Ottawa (16 August 2011) - Three scientist from Health Canada made headlines after opposing the approval of Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) in 1990's raising concerns about food safety and human health. A decision of a Senate inquiry resulting in the banning of Monsanto's rBGH later vindicated their position.

One out of the three scientists who have been out of work for the past seven years was reinstated through a decision of the Public Service Labour Relations Board in early August 2011. The Board ruled that Dr. Gerard Lambert was wrongfully dismissed but failed to reinstate the two other scientists, Dr. Shiv Chopra and Dr. Margaret Haydon.

Lucy Sharratt, director of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) emphasizes the contribution these scientist played in the protection of public health with regards to the banning of rBGH:

"The Canadian government’s decision to reject rBGH is the outcome of more than a decade of persistent grassroots resistance strengthened by diligent inquiry by some scientists within Health Canada, key news media exposure, and a national political debate that included hearings before two parliamentary committees."

“Today is a sad day,” the Professional Institute of the Public Service (PIPS) President Gary Corbett said. “The government of Canada offers little protection to whistleblowers.”

“Their only defiance is that they resisted commercial pressure and provided evidence to official parliamentary committees. Cases of dismissal like these do nothing good to help public-service whistleblowers to come forward and denounce wrongdoing within their departments.”

Harper's promise to overhaul Canada's flawed whistleblower protection has proven to be a smoke screen for doing nothing. Minister Ouimet, put in charge of the Integrity Commission, has stifled any effective whistle-blowing and was forced to retire earlier this year.

Whistleblowers still have inadequate protections and taking action as an honest and concerned public servant is still the 'hard road' with innumerable costs. Dr. Chopra says he wouldn't hesitate to do it all over again despite the hardships, but advises, "Never do it for glory. Once you do it, you will be riding a tiger. It will be him or you."

More Information:

No to Bovine Growth Hormone: A Story of Resistance from Canada -  link to pdf


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE