Sask. Court of Appeal to hear case of nurse penalized $26K over post on Facebook

A Saskatchewan nurse’s appeal of a $26,000 penalty is being heard at Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal on Tuesday morning.

In 2016, Carolyn Strom was found guilty of professional misconduct after writing a post on Facebook criticizing the health care her grandfather received while in palliative care.

In the post, Strom said staff at St. Joseph’s Integrated Health Centre in the town of Macklin, about 225 kilometres west of Saskatoon, needed to do a better job of looking after elderly patients.

“It is evident that not everyone is ‘up to speed’ on how to approach end of life care … or how to help maintain an aging senior’s dignity (among other things!),” read part of the Facebook post.

Some of the nurses in the hospital felt Strom’s post was a personal attack and complained. The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association ruled the post brought the nursing profession into disrepute and violated its social media policy.

Strom was given a $1,000 fine by the assocation and was ordered to pay $25,000 to cover the cost of the tribunal.

She argued the case will have a chilling effect on nurses, who may fear they will be penalized if they speak out.

She also noted the post was not about her personal workplace, but about the care her grandfather received.

The nurses association argued Strom should have gone through the correct channels and lodged an official complaint.

Last year, Strom appealed the nursing association’s decision to the Court of Queen’s Bench, where it was dismissed when the judge said he could find no reason to interfere with the association’s decision.

Three groups have applied for intervenor status in the case, including the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses and the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

The appeal will be heard at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Regina at 10 a.m. CST.

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