Appeal Court quashes fine against Saskatchewan nurse who made critical Facebook post

Appeal Court quashes fine against Saskatchewan nurse who made critical Facebook post

SASKATOON — Saskatchewan’s highest court has overruled a disciplinary decision and a $26,000 fine levied against a nurse who criticized her grandfather’s care on Facebook.

The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association had made a finding of professional misconduct against Carolyn Strom, a registered nurse from Prince Albert, Sask.

“Criticism of the health-care system is manifestly in the public interest,” Justice Brian Barrington-Foote wrote in the decision released Tuesday.

“Such criticism, even by those delivering those services, does not necessarily undermine public confidence in health-care workers or the health-care system. Indeed, it can enhance confidence.”

A few weeks after her grandfather’s death in 2015, Strom wrote on Facebook that some unnamed staff at his long-term care facility in Macklin, Sask., were not up to speed on delivering end-of-life care. She also added a link to a newspaper article on the issue.

“I challenge the people involved in decision-making with that facility to please get All Your Staff a refresher on the topic And More … to those who made Grandpa’s last years less than desirable, Please Do Better Next Time!” one comment read.

Some nurses at the facility reported the post. The nurses association found Strom guilty of professional misconduct in 2016 and ordered her to pay the hefty financial penalty.

The association’s lawyer had argued before the Appeal Court that Strom personally attacked an identifiable group without attempting to get all the facts about her grandfather’s care.

It was suggested that Canadians would lose trust in the health-care system if nurses could say what they wanted about medical establishments online based on how they felt on a particular day.

The justice ruled that criticism of health care is in the public interest and can bring positive change when it comes from front-line workers.

“The fact that public confidence in aspects of the health-care system may suffer as a result of fair criticism can itself result in positive change,” Barrington-Foote wrote.

The disciplinary decision “would effectively preclude (nurses) from using their unique knowledge and professional credibility to publicly advance important issues relating to long-term care,” he added.

Barrington-Foote also ruled that Strom’s freedom of expression was infringed upon and that she had a right to criticize the care her grandfather received.

The judge said his ruling did not include any findings specific to the care Strom’s grandfather received or on the training of staff at the facility.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2020.

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Chasetin Morin
Photo from RCMP
Three men accused of assaulting Blackfalds RCMP officer going to trial

RCMP officer shot and wounded one of alleged attackers in December 2019

The Cenovus Energy Inc. logo seen at the company's headquarters in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
One-time costs of Husky takeover expected to be about $500 million, says Cenovus CEO

One-time costs of Husky takeover expected to be about $500 million, says Cenovus CEO

This drum circle was one of a multitude of activities held at The Hub on Ross in downtown Red Deer. The facility was permanently closed by the provincial government his week. (Advocate file photo.)
Many Red Deerians react with anger, dismay at closure of The Hub on Ross

Many disabled people can’t afford other recerational options, says guardian

Award-winning Calgary developer Brad Remington stands with Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the site of three multi-family condo complexes that are planned for Capstone, west of Carnival Cinemas. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
$36M condo project on its way to Capstone development

Calgary developer plans to create 180 housing units to open in 2022

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Workers at Olymel's Red Deer pork processing plant are among those eligible for a $2-an-hour bonus because of the pandemic.
Red Deer Advocate file photo
Two Olymel workers test positive for COVID-19 in Red Deer

Two workers at Olymel’s pork processing facility in Red Deer have tested… Continue reading

Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers, 25-17

Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers, 25-17

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2015, file photo, former world boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. shows off his Russian passport during a news conference in Moscow, Russia. Mike Tyson and Jones got permission from California's athletic commission to return to the boxing ring next month because their fight would be strictly an exhibition of their once-unparalleled skills. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)
Mike Tyson, Roy Jones promise a fight in “exhibition” return

Mike Tyson, Roy Jones promise a fight in “exhibition” return

David Hearn watches his putt on the seventh hole during the first round of the Wyndham Championship golf tournament at Sedgefield Country Club on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Greensboro, N.C. David Hearn, like everyone, has been deeply effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Chris Carlson
Canada’s Hearn looks to shake off poor 2020 results with more consistent play

Canada’s Hearn looks to shake off poor 2020 results with more consistent play

Malnati birdies half of holes to take 1-shot lead in Bermuda

Malnati birdies half of holes to take 1-shot lead in Bermuda

Penny Oleksiak swims the 200 metre race during the 2018 Team Canada finals in Edmonton on Wednesday July 18, 2018. The number of young swimmers in Canada is dwindling because of barriers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Swimming Canada urges pools to accommodate youth, says can be done safely

Swimming Canada urges pools to accommodate youth, says can be done safely

Canada's Meaghan Mikkelson (12) and Marie-Philip Poulin (29) defends against United States' Hilary Knight (21) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada's director of women's national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team yearns for international competition

Canadian women’s hockey team yearns for international competition

Most Read