‘This precedent affects all nurses’: PA nurse to appeal $26,000 penalty

Carolyn Strom. Photo: gofundme.com

A Prince Albert nurse slapped with a $26,000 penalty for a Facebook post says she is appealing to a court of law.

For more than a year, Carolyn Strom has been arguing her case before the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association. Last fall, a disciplinary committee ruled that she committed professional misconduct when, through Facebook, she criticized the care her grandfather received at a long-term care home.

Then, on April 4, they hit her with a $1,000 fine and tacked on $25,000 in legal costs.

That left Strom with three options: she could give up, she could appeal to a higher body of the nurses’ association, or she could take her case straight to the Court of Queen’s Bench.

She said she’s opting for Queen’s Bench, the highest trial court in Saskatchewan. Her lawyer, Marcus Davies, said they’ve already filed an appeal, but they will need to amend it or refile to take account of the penalty.

“It was a really tough decision,” Strom told the Daily Herald. “I seriously considered giving up on the case as I’m emotionally, mentally and physically worn out from the past couple years.”

But now she’s determined to fight. Strom and Davies both say the decision risks setting a precedent that could chill free speech rights across the province, even across the country.

“I realize this precedent affects all nurses, so it’s not just about me anymore,” Strom said.

Many nurses across Canada seem to agree. A gofundme.com campaign set up to cover her costs has now raised more than $13,000 from 281 donors, in just six days.

For more on this story, see the April 12 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.