EDMONTON – With the Legislature set to resume sitting on Tuesday, the time is appropriate for MLAs to consider legislation to protect whistleblowers and to change labour legislation to include first-contract arbitration, says the president of Alberta’s largest union.

“The premier recently suggested that Albertans would never stand for something like the federal sponsorship scandal in this province,” said Alberta Union of Provincial Employees President Dan MacLennan.

“The simplest direct step that can be taken to ensure such a scandal doesn’t happen in Alberta is to legislate effective protection for whistleblowers,” MacLennan said.

“If something is wrong, it’s less likely we’ll hear about it because the consequences for the careers and security of government employees are potentially too severe,” he explained.

“Alberta needs legislation to protect all public employees who ‘whistleblow’ on questionable practices in their workplaces,” MacLennan said. “Government employees, as well as employees of all government-funded agencies including health regions, deserve such protection from retribution by supervisors, senior officials or elected officials.

“This session of the Legislature provides a golden opportunity for consideration of whistleblower-protection legislation that would benefit all Albertans,” he concluded.

As for labour laws, MacLennan said, there is a need for legislation that would impose binding arbitration in cases where an employer and a union can’t agree on a first collective agreement.

“Most provinces in Canada has such legislation and it is a major contributing factor to preventing unnecessary labour disputes, encouraging labour peace and ensuring working people are treated fairly,” MacLennan said.

Premier Ralph Klein, Human Resources and Employment Minister Mike Cardinal and Infrastructure Minister Lyle Oberg have all suggested in the past several weeks that the time may have come to introduce first-contract arbitration legislation.

“Their instinct is the right one,” MacLennan said. “The time is right for such legislation to find its way onto the government’s agenda.”

Other changes needed to Alberta’s labour laws include essential services legislation that would extend full and fair collective bargaining rights to all public employees, and an end to exemptions in the labour code that allow employers to dodge minimum workplace standards, MacLennan added.

For more information, contact:

Dan MacLennan, President, AUPE, 780-930-3301 or 780-232-8392 (cellular phone)
David Climenhaga, Communications Director, AUPE, 780-930-3311 or 780-717-2943 (cellular phone)