Punished For Whistleblowing?! – Dur Traitement Pour Les Lanceurs d’Alerte – Es Muy Costoso Ser Alertador – بَهای سَنگینِ دَمیدَن در سوتِ هُشدار دَر کانادا



To remain silent or to become a whistleblower? To ignore or speakout?

Se taire ou dénoncer? Ignorer ou parler?

¿Ser silencioso o alertador? Ignorar o hablar?

سُکوت کُنیم یا دَر سوتِ هُشدار بِدَمیم؟ نادیده بِگیریم یا بَرمَلا کُنیم؟


In July 2013,  Sylvie Therrien was suspended without pay for revealing that she, like other Employment Insurance investigators, was subject to a quota: to achieve savings of nearly $500,000 per year by denying EI benefits to applicants. In order to achieve these quotas, many deserving EI claimants were being harassed and improperly penalized, she said. Therrien felt that she could not ‘send people to the street’ in order to meet these arbitrary targets, but was soon perilously close to the street herself. The government fired her for cause, which means that she would receive no EI assistance, and stripped her of her security clearance, rendering her unemployable in the public service. Unable to afford her rent, she found shelter sleeping on a friend’s couch.

© Whistleblowers


Erica Johnson is an award-winning investigative journalist. She hosted CBC’s consumer program Marketplace for 15 years, investigating everything from dirty hospitals to fraudulent financial advisors. As co-host of the CBC news segment Go Public, Erica continues to expose wrongdoing and hold corporations and governments to account. [CBC]

Jobless and Bankrupt; “Speaking Out Comes At High Price”

This Labour Day, former Employment Insurance fraud investigator Sylvie Therrien wishes she was still employed instead of being caught in a “bureaucratic nightmare” trying to get her job back.

The Vancouver woman says she’s been trying for five years, and it’s left her financially devastated and emotionally drained.

Therrien is just one of “hundreds of people” who have paid a high price for speaking out, while the federal government does “absolutely nothing” to safeguard them, says David Hutton, a longtime whistleblower protection advocate.

“The process is torturous,” says Therrien, referring to her experience with Canada’s whistleblower protection system. “I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”


© Canadian Whistle Blower 


“Find Loopholes”

When she worked as an EI fraud investigator in 2013, Therrien says, she and about 15 other people in her department were tasked with finding ways to disqualify people from coverage to save federal dollars.

Each investigator had to find $485,000 in annual savings by denying people EI claims, she says.

“I was told to find a way to not give them benefits, or find loopholes so I could disqualify them. It wasn’t right, and my managers didn’t listen to my concerns,” she says.

She described the pressure to find people to force off assistance as being intense, describing how one supervisor wouldn’t say “good morning,” but rather would ask how much money Therrien had been able to save.

Therrien says very few of the EI recipients she dealt with were actually cheating, estimating around three per cent.


Sylvie Therrien was fired as a federal fraud investigator after leaking information to the media about aggressive government targets to cut people from the Employment Insurance program. (Richard Grundy/CBC)


Becomes a whistleblower

Therrien sent documents to Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper showing that fraud investigators had to save money by denying people EI claims.

The newspaper printed the story on its front page in February 2013.

The information published caused an uproar on Parliament Hill, with both the NDP and Liberals accusing the then-Conservative government of being on a witch hunt against EI recipients.

Initially, the government denied the claims, but then said EI fraud investigators had “targets,” not firm quotas.

In October 2013, Therrien was fired for breaching the government’s communications policy by speaking to the media.

That’s when she turned to Canada’s whistleblower protection system, which she now calls “a very sad joke.”


“System is completely ineffective”

The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act came into effect in April 2007, designed to give protection to federal public servants who speak out about wrongdoing that has been committed, or is about to be committed.

Public servants can submit complaints to the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, an independent office created to protect those who blow the whistle. Therrien submitted a complaint after she was fired.

“The system is completely ineffective in protecting whistleblowers,” says David Hutton, a senior fellow with the Centre for Free Expression at Toronto’s Ryerson University.

“Canada has the reputation internationally of being the Titanic of whistleblower legislation.”

He points to the statistics around those who’ve sought protection after speaking out. Since 2007, 306 people have submitted a complaint to the integrity commissioner, saying they suffered a reprisal for blowing the whistle.

Of those complaints, 14 people settled through conciliation. Only one person has completed the tribunal process, and that woman lost her case.


Therrien sits behind a stack of paperwork generated from a five-year battle with the federal government after being fired for speaking out about perceived wrongdoing. (Richard Grundy/CBC)


Suggestions for change “ignored”

“The system was recently reviewed by a parliamentary committee [whose members] were absolutely shocked by what they found out,” says Hutton.

Their report made sweeping recommendations to change the system.

“Unfortunately, that report was ignored by the government and none of those recommendations have been implemented,” Hutton says.

Some of the key concerns involve the length of time it takes for a case to be handled, the lack of obligation for any action to be taken, and the financial cost for complainants, often resulting in intense pressure on them to cut their losses and agree to a “voluntary” settlement.

The Ottawa-based advocacy group Democracy Watch has created a petition, urging Canadians to call on the federal government to implement some of the key changes recommended in the parliamentary committee’s report.

So far, more than 22,000 Canadians have signed it.


“They Lose Everything”

“Look at the lives ruined,” Hutton says.

“Whistleblowers nearly always suffer career-ending reprisals. They’re blacklisted. They can’t find work again. They suffer from depression. They lose their home. They often lose their families.

“These are good honest people who are doing the right thing to protect us, to protect the public and they lose everything.”

As a federal fraud investigator, Therrien earned more than $60,000 a year. She has since struggled to find work, even claiming EI herself for a short period after a temporary job ended.

She recently declared bankruptcy.

Unable to pay rent on her two-bedroom Vancouver apartment, she is currently staying with a friend and desperately trying to find affordable accommodation.

“My life is in chaos,” says Therrien, who now suffers from depression and anxiety.


David Hutton says ‘good, honest people who are doing the right thing’ get severely mistreated as whistleblowers. (Guillaume Lafrenière/CBC)


Integrity Commissioner won’t talk

Go Public requested an interview with Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Joe Friday to discuss why it has been five years since Therrien submitted a complaint and she is still waiting for it to be addressed.

Our request was declined.

In an email, spokesperson Parham Kahjeh-Naini wrote, “The commissioner is sympathetic to the impact that extended delays can have on individuals taking part in a grievance or complaint process. However, we are not able to comment on the merits of an ongoing case.”

Kahjeh-Naini said that because Therrien’s case is also before the Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, the integrity commissioner is waiting to see whether it will be resolved there.

When Therrien learned the integrity commissioner wouldn’t investigate her case because it was before the labour board, she appealed.

In January 2017, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled the commissioner had the discretion to deal with her case, but he has chosen not to.


I feel buried

The lack of movement is frustrating for Therrien, as her case has been before the labour relations board for five years.

Submissions were completed over a year ago, but no decision has been issued. The board declined to tell Go Public the reason for delay.

“I feel buried under a complex quasi-judicial manoeuvring of the system,” Therrien says.

“I’m being ignored by all those people who have the power to make a decision. They have the power.”

Continue reading in CBC website










Survey – Enquête – Encuesta

نظرسنجی سریع

Does commissioner’s words correspond to his negative decision on Sylvie’s case?

Ses paroles correspondent-elles à sa décision négatif sur le cas de Sylvie?

¿Sus palabras corresponden a su decisión negativa sobre el caso de Sylvie?

آیا صحبتهای آقای کُمیسیونر با رای منفی ایشان در پرونده خانم سیلوی تطابق دارد؟

[poll id=”10″]


© Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada 


پروژه 499

Express your opinion in maximum 499 words. Do you agree or disagree!? 

Exprimez votre opinion en 499 mots au maximum. Êtes-vous d’accord ou en désaccord?

Exprese su opinión en 499 palabras solamente: ¿Está de acuerdo o en desacuerdo?

نظر خود را درباره این موضوع در حداکثر 499 کلمه بیان کنید: موافق هستید یا مخالف 


About /À propos de Project X-99

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Dur traitement pour les lanceurs d’alerte fédéraux

Le «cauchemar bureaucratique» d’une ancienne enquêteuse de l’assurance-emploi remet en question la protection des lanceurs d’alerte au gouvernement fédéral.

Depuis cinq ans, Sylvie Therrien tente de retrouver son emploi. La résidente de Vancouver a été licenciée après avoir dénoncé les quotas de refus de prestation d’assurance-emploi imposés aux enquêteurs en 2013.

Elle est toujours sans emploi et se dit financièrement ruinée et émotionnellement vidée.

La lanceuse d’alerte Sylvie Therrien espère retrouver son emploi après avoir été congédiée à la suite de la dénonciation de quotas de refus de prestation d’assurance-emploi, en 2013. Photo : Radio-Canada/Richard Grundy

Pas la seule

Mme Therrien est l’une des « centaines de personnes » qui ont subi des conséquences après avoir osé dénoncer certaines pratiques du gouvernement du Canada, soutient David Hutton, l’un de ceux qui militent pour obtenir une meilleure protection des lanceurs d’alerte fédéraux.

Il ajoute qu’Ottawa ne fait « absolument rien » pour protéger ceux qui ont le courage de parler.

Si certains moyens existent pour protéger ces derniers et leurs droits, y recourir relève « de la torture », explique Mme Therrien.

Alerte aux quotas

Le « cauchemar » de Sylvie Therrien commence en 2013, alors que, tout comme 15 de ses collègues enquêteurs pour l’assurance-emploi, elle se voit imposer un quota de 485 000 $ de refus de requêtes de prestations afin d’économiser de l’argent.

Mme Therrien précise que, selon ses estimations, seulement 3 % des demandeurs soumettaient des déclarations frauduleuses.

« Je devais leur refuser certains avantages ou trouver des failles [dans leurs demandes] de façon à pouvoir les disqualifier. C’était injuste, et mes patrons refusaient d’entendre mes inquiétudes », raconte-t-elle.

La pression exercée par les supérieurs était telle que l’un d’eux demandait quelles étaient les économies du jour plutôt que de saluer les employés, ajoute Mme Therrien.

Elle a alors envoyé des documents prouvant l’existence de quotas au quotidien Le Devoir, qui a exposé la pratique au grand jour dans un article de février 2013, ce qui a enflammé la colline du Parlement.

Quelques mois plus tard, Sylvie Therrien a été congédiée pour avoir contrevenu aux politiques de communication du gouvernement parce qu’elle avait parlé aux médias.

C’est à ce moment qu’elle a entrepris son périple dans les méandres du système de protection.

© Canadian Whistle Blower 


Un systèm “totalement inefficace”

La protection des lanceurs d’alerte est assurée en vertu de la Loi sur la protection des fonctionnaires divulgateurs d’actes répréhensibles, promulguée en avril 2007.

Celle-ci vise à offrir une protection aux fonctionnaires fédéraux qui dénoncent les actes répréhensibles déjà commis ou sur le point de l’être par l’intermédiaire du Commissariat à l’intégrité du secteur public.

C’est auprès de ce commissariat indépendant que Sylvie Therrien a porté plainte après son renvoi de la fonction publique.

L’ennui, c’est que « le système est totalement inefficace », selon David Hutton, agrégé supérieur au Centre pour la libre expression de l’Université Ryerson. « Le Canada a la réputation d’avoir le Titanic des lois sur les lanceurs d’alerte », dit-il.

Il ajoute que, des 306 plaintes reçues par le commissariat, seulement 14 ont été réglées en médiation et une a échoué au tribunal.

David Hutton, agrégé supérieur au Centre pour la libre expression de l’Université Ryerson et militant pour les droits des lanceurs d’alerte, dénonce l’inefficacité du système de protection mis en place par Ottawa. Photo : Radio-Canada/Guillaume Lafrenière

Un rapport ignoré

Pourtant, un comité parlementaire s’est récemment intéressé au système de protection, et ses membres « ont été renversés par ce qu’ils ont trouvé », indique David Hutton.

Le rapport du comité et les recommandations qu’il contenait touchaient les délais de traitement des plaintes, l’absence d’obligation d’intervenir, le fardeau financier imposé aux plaignants et la pression qu’il exerce sur eux, au point de les inciter à accepter une « entente volontaire ».

Ces recommandations ont toutefois laissé Ottawa de glace et « aucune d’entre elles n’a été appliquée », déplore M. Hutton.

« Les lanceurs d’alerte sont pratiquement toujours victimes de représailles et y perdent leur carrière », raconte-t-il, ajoutant qu’ils vont jusqu’à « souffrir de dépression, perdre leurs maisons et, parfois, leurs familles, alors qu’ils sont honnêtes et veulent protéger le public ».

Un commissaire silencieux

L’équipe d’enquêtes de CBC, Go Public, a tenté de joindre le commissaire à l’intégrité du secteur public, Joe Friday, mais il n’a pas voulu accorder d’entrevue.

Dans un courriel, son porte-parole, Parham Kahjeh-Naini, affirme : « Le commissaire comprend l’effet que peuvent avoir les délais de traitement sur les plaignants, mais il ne peut commenter des affaires en cours. »

Dans le cas de Sylvie Therrien, M. Kahjeh-Naini soutient que le commissariat attend la décision de la Commission des relations de travail et de l’emploi dans le secteur public fédéral avant d’intervenir.


Avec les informations de Erica Johnson et Enza Uda, CBC News



Good to Know!

Bon à Savoir!

¡Bueno Saber!

خوب است بدانیم

© Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada 



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Good to Know!

Bon à Savoir!

¡Bueno Saber!

خوب است بدانیم


© Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada 


پروژه 499

Express your opinion in maximum 499 words. Do you agree or disagree!? 

Exprimez votre opinion en 499 mots au maximum. Êtes-vous d’accord ou en désaccord?

Exprese su opinión en 499 palabras solamente: ¿Está de acuerdo o en desacuerdo?

نظر خود را درباره این موضوع در حداکثر 499 کلمه بیان کنید: موافق هستید یا مخالف 


About /À propos de Project X-99

Sobre Proyecto X-99 درباره پروژه 





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