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October 6, 2020

Canada’s nurses welcome appeal win in Strom case, affirming nurses’ Charter rights

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is pleased to learn that the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of nurse Carolyn Strom, overturning a decision by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association (SRNA) Discipline Committee.

Ms. Strom was previously found guilty of professional misconduct and fined $26,000 by SRNA, the province’s regulatory body for nurses, for commenting on social media about the quality of her grandfather’s end-of-life care in 2015.

In today’s decision, the Court of Appeal found that the SRNA’s Discipline Committee unjustifiably infringed on Ms. Strom’s Charter right to freedom of expression, and ordered them to pay legal costs.

The court noted that nurses and other regulated professionals remain bound by codes of conduct, professional standards, and the rules of regulatory bodies, but that these limits do not require that they fall silent. They continue to have the right to privacy and freedom of expression.

The Court also affirmed the importance of criticizing public services and health care, even by those delivering them, noting that it can enhance public confidence “by demonstrating that those with the greatest knowledge of this massive and opaque system, and who have the ability to effect change, are both prepared and permitted to speak and pursue positive change.”

Canada’s nurses congratulate Ms. Strom and the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses on the success of their appeal. We affirm the crucial importance of nurses’ role as advocates for our patients and our health care system as a whole. Advocating for our loved ones and our communities is a basic right for everyone in Canada, including Canada’s nurses.