Saskatoon man says health facility 'punished' him for reporting 'inappropriate actions' by female worker

A Saskatoon man says he was barred from receiving treatment at a facility in his city for reporting an instance of alleged sexual harassment.

Kenneth Lowell Ruda has filed a claim with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

Kenneth Lowell Ruda says he was barred from getting health services at a Saskatoon health facility following a complaint he made against a female staff member for alleged inappropriate behaviour. (Submitted by Kenneth Lowell Ruda)

A Saskatoon man says he was barred from receiving treatment at a facility in his city for reporting an instance of alleged sexual harassment.

Following two car accidents in 2016, Kenneth Lowell Ruda was sent by his personal injury representative at SGI to be evaluated for a treatment plan at a facility in Saskatoon.

I just said, 'Hey, I don't want this person treating me anymore. It made me feel uncomfortable.'- Kenneth Lowell Ruda

It was during his first day of a two-day assessment on Feb. 14, 2017, when, he said, the alleged incident took place.

"This lady was sitting across from me," said Ruda.

"She sat and moved in close with her knees on the outside of my knees and she was rubbing on the inside of my leg with her thumb."

He said that the woman then asked him if he was married or single.  

Ruda filed a complaint against the woman the following day before completing the rest of his assessment with other health professionals at the clinic.

"I just said, 'Hey, I don't want this person treating me anymore. It made me feel uncomfortable.'"

About a month later, Ruda received a letter from SGI that stated because he had proceeded with a formal complaint with the health authority, the manager of the Saskatoon facility confirmed they were unable to accommodate his 16-week treatment plan at that clinic.

Instead, his file would be forwarded to a facility in Regina that offered similar treatment.

"SGI will provide funding for your travel to get to this program, hotel costs, meal allowances, and any parking costs," his personal injury representative wrote.

'Interject some humour'

A few days later, Ruda received another letter — this time from the manager at the Saskatoon facility about his complaint of sexual harassment.

The manager said he had reviewed the information provided by Ruda and the health professional, and concluded that what had occurred was a "misunderstanding of intent."

In regards to the comments about his marital status, the manager wrote, "the [health professional] felt that this was an attempt to interject some humour into the conversation."

"In every sense, I am being punished for the reporting the inappropriate actions," Ruda said.

He has since filed a human rights violation claim with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Mitigating risks to patient

In an email to CBC News, Saskatchewan Health Authority spokesperson Amanda Purcell wrote, "Generally, if a patient raises a serious allegation related to their care experience, our immediate first step is to ensure any potential risks to the patient are mitigated. This could include ensuring that there are no future interactions between the staff member and the patient."

She said an internal investigation would then be conducted and may involve the co-operation of unions or other third-party entities, including police.

"The safety and well-being of anyone in our care is a very high priority. If individuals or families raise any concerns related to any part of their care experience, we take these matters very seriously."