Whistleblower improves drinking water in Antigonish County
First finding of wrongdoing under Nova Scotia's new whistleblower act
A Nova Scotia whistleblower has succeeded in securing Antigonish County with new monitoring equipment for its drinking water after complaining that the province let the system operate for six years without meeting proper standards.
The case involving a tiny water system that supplies drinking water to just 35 homes marks the first finding of wrongdoing under Nova Scotia's new whistleblower legislation.
For six years, the provincial Environment Department gave the county a variance allowing it to operate the treatment system without meeting required standards for monitoring drinking water.
Testing showed the water was safe and the minister said the county spent money on upgrades.
"There was a financial burden to Antigonish. We understand that," said Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau.
But one of the department's employees disagreed and under the NDP's Public Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act filed a complaint with the Ombudsman in March 2012.
Dwight Bishop's office investigated and issued a finding of wrongdoing against the department.
The Environment Department accepted the findings and the province found $30,000 to upgrade the small treatment system.
"We're on schedule to get the upgrades done and meet these particular standards by this September," said Belliveau.
The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union called the case a milestone.
"We believe this will allow others to feel more comfortable coming forward with other disclosures that they have in their own workplaces," said Darren McPhee.
The union pushed for the legislation, which protects employees' identities.
The Public Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act was legislated in 2010 and spells out where provincial employees should go if they suspect wrongdoing in their workplace and offers protection to those who disclose any potential wrongdoing.