Nurse's battle over $26K fine for Facebook comments heads to Sask. Appeal Court

REGINA — The case of a Saskatchewan nurse facing a $26,000 fine for criticizing her grandfather's care on Facebook will be heard by the province's highest court today.

Carolyn Strom was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association in 2016 and handed the financial penalty.

After an unsuccessful appeal bid last year she's now asking the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to quash the regulatory body's decision.

It all started after Strom made Facebook comments in February 2015 criticizing unnamed staff at her grandfather's long term-care facility in Macklin, Sask., following his death.

Court documents filed for Strom's appeal say the case is about freedom of expression and using professional discipline to prevent employees from speaking out about the shortcomings of the public system.

The nurses association asks the Appeal Court whether professionals have the charter right to say whatever they want on social media, and publicly embarrass health-care facilities without getting all of the facts.

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, Canadian Constitution Foundation and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association are intervening in the case.

"If this ruling is upheld and her $26,000 fine is upheld, it's really sending a message that you can't criticize anything about the health-care system if you are a nurse," said Megan Tweedie, litigation counsel for the B.C. civil liberties group.

In recent messages to The Canadian Press, Strom says she has many feelings about the case, which she's considered giving up at times.

She says she hasn't because it's too important for other health-care workers.

"It's taken a huge toll on my health," Strom said.

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