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Health care ‘whistleblowers’ scared to speak out: NDP

REGINA – The allegations against him include complaining to management and airing concerns about the workplace on Facebook, but Peter Bowden believes he was only suspended because he came forward about conditions at a Saskatoon seniors home.

Bowden, who worked as a care aide at Oliver Lodge, was recently suspended with pay. Several weeks earlier he publicly spoke out about his concerns about understaffing at the home.

During Tuesday’s question period, Opposition NDP critics said the government is trying to silence Bowden and prevent other people from coming forward in the future.

“He should be afforded due process within his own employment and he certainly shouldn’t be vilified, attacked or discredited by the premier’s office,” said deputy NDP leader Trent Wotherspoon. “That’s absolutely unfair.”

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Wotherspoon also accused the government of breaching Bowden’s privacy.

On Monday, a government source said Bowden’s suspension followed several allegations from staff who submitted written complaints to management, ranging from alleged patient care concerns to harassment of other staff and residents.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan suggested to reporters only “half the story” is being told, but wouldn’t divulge anything else about the allegations.

“The Saskatoon Health Region and the facility have a responsibility to follow up and investigate all complaints,” Duncan said. “They don’t have any relation to what he was doing at the legislature that day.”

Duncan also insisted there is still protection for people who feel the need to blow the whistle on problems in the health system.

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With files from The Canadian Press

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