Release: Victory for free expression in Saskatchewan nursing Court of Appeal decision

Release: Victory for free expression in Saskatchewan nursing Court of Appeal decision

REGINA: On Tuesday, October 6, 2020, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal released the decision in Carolyn Strom v The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association. The Court of Appeal set aside a decision by the Saskatchewan nursing regulator to impose a fine and costs, totaling $26,000. The disciplinary action was imposed by the regulator on Ms. Strom for comments she had posted on Facebook criticizing end of life care her grandfather had received, and advocating for improvements to the healthcare system.

“Today’s result is a victory for free expression and for Ms. Strom,” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn. “The issue in this case was whether Ms. Strom was free to speak about her first-hand experience of the poor quality medical care that her ailing grandfather received. Today’s decision confirms that the province of Saskatchewan, through a professional regulator, cannot restrict her right to free expression or stop her from blowing the whistle on what she perceived as poor quality care.”

The CCF was granted intervenor status in the Court of Appeal proceeding, and argument was heard in September 2019. Ms. Strom’s original comments were posted in 2015, and used non-inflammatory language and deliberately did not reveal the names of any of the staff whose professionalism she criticized.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the most outspoken advocates for improving care in long term care homes have been nurses themselves. This decision shows that the government cannot use the authority of professional regulators to silence those voices,” concluded Van Geyn.

See the original release.