Ottawa, June 15, 2017 – As a result of a whistleblower coming forward, Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Joe Friday, found wrongdoing at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). In his report, tabled in Parliament today, Commissioner Friday finds that the former Director of the Conservation and Protection (C&P) branch in the Maritimes Region as well as its regional and national management failed to take necessary and appropriate action to respond to a clear and demonstrated health and safety issue.
“DFO knew that Fishery Officers were exposed to excessive noise levels that could cause hearing loss,” stated Commissioner Friday in his report, “yet affected employees were not informed of the danger, were not given any directions or guidance to mitigate the danger, nor issued hearing-protection equipment in a timely manner.”
The Director waited seven months to advise employees to wear hearing protection on DFO Maritimes Region program vessels. The Director and DFO management received a report on November 05, 2013 that contained the results of a Noise Assessment of DFO Maritimes Region program vessels that had identified the existence of a noise hazard and that recommended that employees wear hearing protection. Affected employees were only advised on June 16, 2014 of the noise hazard and the requirement to wear hearing protection.
The Director’s rationale for withholding this information was to address the results of the noise assessment from a national perspective first, based on the belief that all DFO employees across Canada could potentially be affected. However, the delay was caused by a lack of clear and concise direction as well as a lack of appropriate and timely follow-up action by management.
“This case report can serve as a caution that long-term goals of establishing national approaches within federal organizations cannot come at a cost to employees’ health and safety.” added the Commissioner.
Please consult the case report for further details.
Commissioner Friday also tabled his 2016-17 annual report today which highlights his Office’s operational activities, the legislative review of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and an important research paper on the fear of reprisal.
“These operational achievements reflect my Office’s commitment to respond to disclosures and reprisal complaints in a timely and fair manner,” stated the Commissioner in his report. “This year has been one of tremendous activity and progress for my Office, and for the federal whistleblowing regime.”
Read the full 2016-17 Annual Report.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada