Councillors Jeannie Kanakos (left) and Sylvia Bishop (right) during the council discussion of Kanakos’ whistle-blower policy. (Delta council live-stream screenshot)

Delta to craft whistle-blower policy

The policy is meant to increase public trust and create support for staff in questionable situations

Delta could be getting a whistle-blower policy by the end of the year, after a notice of motion put forward by Counc. Jeannie Kanakos was approved Monday night (Sept. 17).

“The purpose is to maintain and enhance the public’s trust and confidence in an organization’s integrity,” Kanakos said at council. “I just think that really sets stage for our staff to be able to have a conversation in any situation.”

The motion was brought forward by Kanakos at the Aug. 27 council meeting in response to issues surrounding Ladner’s Enviro-Smart Organics composting facility.

“There are a lot of pieces that don’t add up to me,” Kanakos said in early September about Enviro-Smart. “It doesn’t add up how a mom and pop … composting [and] recycling facility, starting off at just a few thousand tons, ended up as a 150,000 ton operation.

“Then I thought to myself, if this isn’t adding up, how many other situations are there like that?”

RELATED: Kanakos proposes whistle-blower policy for Delta staff

Mayor Lois Jackson, who has been at the city’s helm since 1999 and is running for council in the upcoming election, said that she never heard of staff needing to have confidentiality to bring forward issues.

“When I was elected … I don’t think there were whistle-blower policies then, but a lot of things have happened in 20 years,” Jackson said at council. “As far as I’m concerned, the policy isn’t coming forward because of anything I know or see happening at all in the corporation, or the fire department, or the police department.”

The policy will outline procedures for how confidentiality is provided, as well as protection and support for those who bring forward information. It will also look at the procedure and process for reporting on things brought forward in confidence.

Currently, Delta does not have a whistle-blower policy, and neither do half of the municipalities in the Lower Mainland. Surrey does have a similar policy, and Counc. Robert Campbell suggested that Delta staff look to that policy and another one in Calgary for inspiration.

The provincial government has put forward legislation on a whistle-blowing policy called the Public Interest Disclosure Act, although it is not in force yet. Until it is enacted by regulation, Delta has no way of knowing if this act would apply to its municipal employees. (If it does, it would supersede any policy put forward by the city.)

Human resources manager Samantha Pillay told council Monday there are other policies that need to be put forward by staff first, but she expects a whistle-blower policy could be developed before the end of the year.

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