The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Canada needs more independent media. And independent media needs you.

Did you know that most news organizations in Canada are owned by just a handful of companies? And that these companies have been shutting down newsrooms and laying off reporters continually over the past few decades?

Fact-based, credible journalism is essential to our democracy. Unlike many other newsrooms across the country, The Tyee’s independent newsroom is stable and growing.

How are we able to do this? The Tyee Builder program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip into our editorial budget so that we can keep doing what we do best: fact-based, in-depth reporting on issues that matter to our readers. No paywall. No junk. Just good journalism.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to be Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
News

BC Government Undermining Their Work, Scientists Say

Study finds political interference, cuts preventing research needed for evidence-based decisions.

By Jeremy J. Nuttall 6 Apr 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Jeremy J. Nuttall is The Tyee’s reader-funded Parliament Hill reporter in Ottawa. Find his previous stories here.

Provincial government scientists in British Columbia say they are being prevented from speaking to media, face political interference and are worried about their ability to conduct proper research, according to a study released today.

A report by Evidence for Democracy, a non-partisan organization promoting transparency in government decisions, found 49 per cent of B.C. government scientists believe political interference is preventing evidence from being used to craft laws and policy.

“It hasn’t been an issue that has captivated the public and we believe that it should,” said Scott McCannell, executive director of the Professional Employees Association, which represents most public sector scientists in B.C.

After being approached by Evidence for Democracy, the union provided part of the funding for the study and distributed the survey to members who are scientists. Evidence for Democracy decided independently on the questions and report’s contents, McCannell said.

The study surveyed 403 scientists working for the province in 10 ministries, representing about 35 per cent of public sector scientists in the province. It asked 64 questions related to communication, independence and research abilities.

The most obvious political interference is the BC Liberal government’s elimination of 25 per cent of scientist positions since taking power in 2001 and delegating oversight of B.C.’s resources to the private sector, McCannell said.

Closing regional offices, limiting professional development and a lack of long-term planning are all contributing factors to the erosion of scientists’ ability to do their jobs, he said.

More than two-thirds of scientists surveyed said they don’t have the resources to properly conduct their research and 71 per cent said a lack of resources hampers their ability to produce scientific reports, the study found.

The report uses the example of a massive tailing pond breach at the Mount Polley mine as an example of the potential damage from inadequate resources for government scientists and reliance external consultants to assess and manage risk. The cuts, outsourcing of oversight and poor enforcement created a “perfect storm” which lead to the tailings pond failure, it charges.

It should be a concern that only three per cent of scientists surveyed said they could speak freely about their work to the media, McCannell said.

“What it does is diminishes government’s accountability to make sure that decisions are being made reflecting science, science values and, frankly, other values beyond industry.”

McCannell said B.C. government scientists face the same challenges as federal scientists under the Stephen Harper government. The provincial government has been more subtle, but the effect is the same, he added.

He added that he hopes voters will consider the issue before voting in the May 9 election.

In 2013 the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents 15,000 federal government scientists, released a report titled “The Big Chill” detailing the Harper government’s muzzling of scientists.

The report found 10 per cent of scientists were not able to speak to the media freely about their work, calling the figure “worrisome.” It also found 71 per cent of federal scientist felt the government’s approach to science was hurting its ability to craft informed policy based on evidence — the same result found by the B.C. study.

The Evidence for Democracy report recommends measures included more resources for work by government scientists and allowing scientists to have the final say on how their work is made public.

McCannell said proper whistleblower protection is also needed for provincial government scientists.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free.

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Are You Concerned about Rising Support for Canada’s Far-Right Parties?

Take this week's poll