Whistleblowing in Canada
A Knowledge Synthesis Report

About this Report

Whistleblowers have been involved in the evolution of modern democratic societies and have spurred growing interest from citizens for transparency and freedom of information. The Internet and social networks have allowed for the development of citizen actions and large-scale disclosures of public interest information. In addition to responding to citizens’ desire for society’s openness and transparency, the protection of whistleblowers is part of risk management before disasters. In fact, in the past, these actors of change have brought a number of health, environmental, financial, surveillance and corruption scandals to light. At the same time, disclosures may put certain citizens at risk. While the determination of whistleblowing limitations is essential to ensure a fair, secure and open society, the Canadian legal framework is uncertain and unclear. Without knowing the criteria of protection, their rights, obligations and the risks involved to their safety, informed people will not disclose. This Knowledge Synthesis initially set out to explain this framework, and now also highlights the gaps in the Canadian legal system, that is confusing at best, in regard to whistleblower protection and the need for critical reflexion and change.

This report is the result of Knowledge Synthesis Grant awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), as part of the “Imagining Canada’s Future” initiative, to Dr. Florian Martin-Bariteau. It is worth noting that Knowledge Synthesis Grants are not intended to support original research. They rather support the synthesis of existing research knowledge and the identification of knowledge gaps.

About the Authors

Dr. Florian Martin-Bariteau, LL.D., is an Assistant Professor of Law and Technology at the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa. He is also the Director of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Law, Technology and Society, the largest research centre in the field in Canada, and one of the leaders in the protection of digital citizens and freedom of expression.

Véronique Newman, BA, is a Juris Doctor and Licentiate in Civil Law candidate in the Canadian Law Program at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. She has been a Research Assistant at the University of Ottawa’s Center for Law, Technology and Society since January 2016. Before that, she was a Junior Policy Analyst at Global Affairs Canada.

Contact the authors

This report has been funded by

The research team is based at

© 2018 | Florian Martin-Bariteau