Lack of protection keeps Canadian whistleblowers at bay

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Along with the recent disappearance of HR manager Jia Lining, the issue of whistle-blowing has attracted international attention – but does corporate Canada favour the corrupt?
A report from the B.C. auditor general’s office revealed that Canadian whistleblowers are afforded much less protection than those in other parts of the developed world.

Even with Canada Revenue Agency’s Offshore Tax Informant program – which pledges to pay informants for information on tax evasion – the country is still trailing other jurisdictions.
And, somewhat worryingly, the program has not paid out any rewards since it was launched over a year ago.

In November of last year, Burnaby’s Viscount Systems filed suit against Stephen Pineau – its former CEO. Pineau, who had been with the B.C based company for 17 years, was accused of making $67,000 worth of fraudulent claims on his corporate expense card.

So why had no one raised the issue earlier? According to the lawsuit, nothing was said until a month after he was terminated without cause.

Con Buckley, senior partner at Buckley Dodds Parker LLP, says Canadian companies need to step up and provide better channels for sharing in-house information.

There may be plenty of rules and regulations in place designed to prevent corporate misconduct, said Buckley, but people don’t always adhere to them.

External auditors often only uncover only a small portion of fraud – the majority is usually detected by accident or revealed by a whistleblower,  said Buckley. That’s why companies need “an independent whistleblower system where you can phone up somebody that is not your immediate boss.”

Leading employment lawyer Richard Charney agrees, he says “Businesses need to adopt a proactive approach to managing allegations or disclosures that point to misconduct within their organisation.

“Not understanding the law surrounding whistle-blowing can be costly for businesses in terms of potential claims as well as damage to reputation,” he warned.

More like this:

HR whistleblower – missing in China

Whistleblower fired for turning in corrupt boss

Is office espionage legal?

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