Whistleblowers allege privacy breach, sue province
Special care home workers lost their jobs after reporting resident mistreatment to government officials
"My understanding is that I was protecting residents of the home and that the department would protect us," says Pitre.
Jeffers says she knows why she lost her job.
"I lost my job because I went in and voiced my concerns," Jeffers says.
In 2013, the women reported to the Department of Social Development that residents of Sunview Manor were being yelled and cursed at by the home operator and that their medications were being misused.
Shortly after, they received letters of dismissal which stated, "Due to restructureing (sic) of the business your services will no longer be needed at sunviewmanor (sic)."
Both women say they felt morally obligated to report their concerns to Social Development, where they say they were promised that the process would remain confidential.
The statements of claim allege only one employee of the home at the time was not laid off and the employee who stayed on was the only one who did not complain to the department.
The provincial government has yet to file a statement of defence.
In the months that followed their 2013 complaints, Pitre and Jeffers say they could not get information from the department on what it was doing with their complaints. When months passed, they approached CBC News.
CBC News filed an access to information request in December 2013 seeking information from the department on "any and all records related to an investigation" involving Sunview Manor.
That request was also denied by the department, which cited a section of the Family Services Act, which keeps information gathered by the department as a part of an investigation confidential.
The commissioner says she conducted an acute analysis of how Social Development handled an access to information request, after CBC News complained it was denied any information relating to the investigation.
Bertrand concluded the fact that an investigation has been undertaken and its results are, by default, public information.
Last year, the department eventually confirmed to CBC News that complaints made to the department were founded.
It said the operator was ordered not to yell or swear in the presence of residents and other orders were made to improve medication and financial management at the home, as well as incident reporting.
Pitre says she was employed as a personal care worker at the home for five years and at the time of her dismissal, made $10.25 hourly.
Jeffers says she had been employed at the home for mentally and physically disabled adults for about a year and made $10.00 per hour.
The pair, along with three other former employees who also raised concerns to Social Development, have filed a lawsuit against the home's operator Carla Cline for alleged wrongful dismissal.
That lawsuit too, alleges the dismissals were because of the employees' "reporting of concerns to the Department of Social Services."
The former employees are claiming for aggravated and punitive damages.
Cline and her lawyer, Timothy Hopkins, declined to respond to the allegations. Hopkins says a statement of defence will be filed with the court soon.
Social Development did not answer a CBC News request for its response to the allegations.