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Nurse's battle over fine for Facebook comments before Saskatchewan Appeal Court

Carolyn Strom, left, arrives at the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan in Regina, Saskatchewan on Tuesday September 17, 2019. Strom was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association in 2016 and handed the financial penalty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

REGINA — The lawyer for a Saskatchewan nurse who was disciplined for criticizing her grandfather’s care on Facebook says the decision to punish her was based on numerous legal errors.

Carolyn Strom was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association in 2016 and fined $26,000.

She’s appearing before the Saskatchewan Appeal Court to ask the court quash that decision.

Her lawyer, Marcus Davies, argues that the association’s discipline committee misquoted from legal decisions and directly misrepresented the outcomes of cases it relied on to reach a decision.

In February 2015 Strom made Facebook comments that some unnamed staff at her grandfather’s long-term-care facility in Macklin, Sask., were not up to speed on delivering end-of-life care.

The nurses association is asking 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 BC 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 civil liberties group.

The Canadian Press