Victory! Whistleblower gets another opportunity to be heard

A recent Federal Court of Appeal decision has allowed another opportunity for whistleblower Sylvie Therrien to challenge her termination.

“This is great news and we hope it will encourage other whistleblowers who face reprisals in the workplace,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President.

In a highly publicized case, Sylvie Therrien, an EI fraud investigator, was terminated in 2013 for whistleblowing. At the time, Therrien went to the media about quotas that employees had to meet to reduce the employment insurance benefits being paid by the government of the day.

Following Therrien’s dismissal, PSAC filed a grievance and also a reprisal complaint under the Public Servants’ Disclosure and Protection Act. The reprisal complaint was dismissed by the Public Service Integrity Commissioner (PSIC). PSAC challenged that ruling in court.

The Court of Appeal has allowed Therrien’s appeal. This means that the Office of the Public Integrity Commissioner will need to re-determine whether it has the authority to consider Therrien’s reprisal complaint.

For Therrien, this means that she will still be able to present written arguments before the Public Service Integrity Commissioner. Her grievance has also gone to adjudication before the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB) and a decision is pending.

The Court allowed the appeal for two reasons:

  • The Commissioner breached “procedural fairness” because it did not allow Therrien to address an important factor it was considering.
  • The Commissioner made an error when it assumed that the PSLREB would be dealing with the issue of reprisal in Therrien’s grievance case.

Related information:

Federal whistleblowers need better protection

PSAC submissions to House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates regarding The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.


March 28, 2017