Fired whistleblower Peter Bowden says his reputation 'sullied'
Peter Bowden hopes union grievance will lead to reinstatement as care aide
Peter Bowden, the Saskatoon care aide who spoke out about conditions in a nursing home, says his reputation has been tarnished after officials released details about his employment status that led to his dismissal.
Bowden, who took his concerns to the legislature in the spring, said he has been through a difficult time since then.
"In one word, hell," he said Tuesday as he reflected on a report by Saskatchewan's Privacy Commissioner who looked into how Bowden's employment details were provided to media outlets.
The commissioner, Ron Kruzeniski, whose report referred to Bowden but did not name him, found that officials at the Ministry of Health and the Saskatoon Health Region breached the man's privacy and should apologize to him.
Kruzeniski's report also noted breaches of privacy were made by officials in the office of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. However, the legislation on privacy does not apply to the premier's office.
Bowden said he was been "waiting on pins and needles" for Kruzeniski's report.
In the spring, Bowden expressed concerns about seniors' care at Oliver Lodge, where he worked. He works the night shift and said his responsibilities include looking after more than 30 residents for three hours every night. He said many residents who require turning or changing are left unattended for hours.
A month later, information that Bowden was under investigation by his employer was sent to several levels of government and some of that information was released by the premier's office to members of the news media.
"He basically has sullied my name to the point where I won't be able to work in the health care field again," Bowden said Tuesday, referring to the release of the information.
Bowden was dismissed a week ago and officials have said that action was not related to Bowden's speaking out at the legislature. Bowden's firing is currently the subject of a grievance.
On Tuesday, Wall said his office thought the release of information relating to Bowden was permissible because it could be viewed as being in the public interest, which the legislation allows.
The finding that his office is exempt was news to him and Wall said he accepts Kruzeniski's recommendation that the law be changed.
Wall also emphasized that he wanted people to understand that Bowden's employment status was not related to the man's speaking out.
"The entire point of the release of any information was to ensure that people understood that his coming to the legislature that day, to state concerns about seniors' care, had nothing to do with any work place discipline," Wall said.
Bowden said he is pleased with Kruzeniski's report and noted that the premier offered him an apology.
He was also pleased that Wall has committed to amend the privacy legislation to include his office, as well as the offices of all government ministers.
"So was it worth going through this? Absolutely, for that very reason," Bowden said. "So that everybody really understands the power of government."
With files from CBC's Arielle Zerr