POLITICS

Government 'leak' was politically convenient, not in public interest: NDP

04/27/2015 06:00 EDT | Updated 07/31/2015 11:59 EDT
REGINA - The Opposition in Saskatchewan says the government leaked information about a care aide's employment record because it was "politically convenient."

Peter Bowden who works at a Saskatoon seniors care home was suspended with pay last week.

He told reporters earlier this month that residents at Oliver Lodge were at risk of skin infections because they were left in soiled diapers and bedding for up to 10 hours.

He said there are times on his night shift that he looks after 32 residents by himself and he suggested more staff are required to provide better care.

Reporters learned of Bowden's suspension in an email sent by a government source.

The email said Oliver Lodge staff had submitted written complaints about Bowden to management. They ranged from alleged patient care concerns to harassment of other staff and residents.

NDP Leader Cam Broten, who raised the issue in Monday's question period, said Bowden was disciplined for speaking out about working conditions and the email was a breach of privacy.

"The premier's chief of communications and operations is proactively, at the premier's direction and approval, leaking private confidential employment history to the media," Broten said. "It's outrageous."

"(It's) all with the intent to sully the reputation of this care aide and then put a chill on other health-care workers who may want to come forward."

Bowden, who has worked at three different care homes over the last 11 years, has filed a complaint with the province's privacy commissioner.

Premier Brad Wall said there was no leak and the information about Bowden's suspension was shared with media as background.

He said he wanted to make it clear that Bowden's suspension wasn't a result of his decision to speak publicly about problems at Oliver Lodge.

"I thought it was important for us to be able to provide a bit of general information so that there was, frankly, credibility in the claim," Wall said. "I doubted it would be believed that this was occurring for reasons other than the fact that he came to the legislature.

"I'm comfortable with the actions that we've taken."