WSIB facing major spike in complaints

Grievances sent to watchdog up by about 120 in 2015/16 compared to previous period

by Sara Mojtehedzadeh printed in  The Toronto Star , July 23, 2016

The number of complaints made to the provincial watchdog about Ontario’s worker compensation system has jumped by almost 20 per cent over the past year, the Star has learned. Nearly 600 complaints were made to the ombudsman about the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) between last April and March of this year, according to statistics requested by the Star – a spike from 2014/15, when the watchdog received about 480 grievances about the board. A further 141 complaints have been lodged in the past three-and-a-half-months. Continue reading

Rob Ferguson, Toronto Star – 01/02/2016

Ontario legislation aims to cut barriers to PTSD treatment for first-responders

Minister hints those afflicted won’t have to prove their illness was caused by the job, something that has proved difficult to do and is blamed for delaying treatment.

By: Rob Ferguson Queen’s Park Bureau, Published on Mon Feb 01 2016

First-responders such as firefighters, police and paramedics could soon get treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder from the Workplace Safety Insurance Board without having to prove it was caused on the job. Continue reading

Toronto Star Editorial 31/01/2016

 Investigate workers’ complaints: Editorial

Doctors join injured workers to demand fair compensation.

Published on Sun Jan 31 2016

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, the provincial agency that provides compensation for workers injured on the job, has been a lightning rod since it was set up in 1914.

Workers accuse it of skimping on benefits, cutting short their medical treatment and forcing them back to work. Employers, whose premiums finance the board, accuse it of coddling malingerers.

Continue reading

Doctor suing WSIB and former employer over fraud claims

Article by Occupational Health and Safety Canada
Canada’s Occupational Health & Safety Magazine

(Canadian OH&S News) — A Hamilton, Ont. doctor has filed a lawsuit against the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and her former employer, Workplace Health & Cost Solutions (WHCS) in Vaughan, for wrongful dismissal from the latter — claiming that the former tried to force her to change her medical opinion about an injured worker, before pressuring the latter to fire her.

According to a Statement of Claim provided to COHSN and dated July 31, Dr. Brenda Steinnagel, 50, is seeking more than $1.3 million in damages from the WSIB and more than $1.8 million from WHCS, plus a declaration that the latter fired her wrongfully in April.

WHCS assigned Dr. Steinnagel to review the workers’ compensation claim of a hospital security guard who had suffered a head injury while restraining a patient late last year, the court document says. But Dr. Steinnagel, who had worked for the company since Sept. 2012, claims that WHCS opposed her medical opinion of the worker’s condition and even tried to “coerce” her into signing a statement that contradicted her conclusions. For several months, both WHCS and the WSIB allegedly waged “a relentless campaign” to make her alter her conclusions, but she refused to take part in the fraud, the Statement of Claim notes.

“She gave an opinion and was fired for reaching the wrong opinion from their perspective,” explained Mark Polley, Dr. Steinnagel’s lawyer, a partner with law firm Polley Faith in Toronto. “It’s a pretty outrageous situation, to be fired for refusing to participate in a fraud, essentially. That’s our view of it.

“And even if they disagreed with her opinion,” Polley added, “her role in a situation is to give the opinion and do it based on her opinion, not what someone else tells her.”

“There is no truth to Dr. Steinnagel’s allegations, and we deny acting wrongfully in any way,” WSIB senior public-affairs consultant Christine Arnott said in an e-mailed statement. “The WSIB will vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

But Polley countered that Dr. Steinnagel had received a forwarded e-mail from WHCS president Yvonne Chan on April 2, stating that WHCS was terminating her employment at the WSIB’s behest.

“So there was sort of a clear pressure, at least not to use her for opinions, which is basically the work they were doing,” said Polley. “So it doesn’t leave much room for her to do work there.”

Employment lawyer Greg McGinnis, who is defending WHCS in the suit, told COHSNthat he believed Dr. Steinnagel’s accusations of improper conduct to be “without merit.” He added that he had filed a pleadings motion to have some of her claims struck from the case.

“We have taken the view that many of her claims are not properly pleaded and don’t actually belong in the claim,” said McGinnis, who practises with Toronto law firm Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark. “We acknowledge that she is making a claim for wrongful dismissal and that there’s a lot of extraneous noise surrounding that particular claim.” The WSIB has filed a similar motion on their part, he added.

The defendants’ pleadings motions will be heard in court on Oct. 26, with the lawsuit itself likely following in November.

“I’m not naïve; sometimes you are successful in that, sometimes you’re not,” said McGinnis, referring to pleadings motions. “That’s up to the judge.”

Polley speculated that this type of alleged fraud may be a problem with the workers’ compensation system overall. “What we’re hearing is that this is a more widespread issue than just this one case,” he said.

“It’s part of this general pressure to reach opinions that allow them to save money,” added Polley, referring to the WSIB. “It was the wrong thing to do regardless of whether they agreed or disagreed with the opinion.”

 

MD claims WSIB fired her over medical opinion

The following is an article from the star.  www.thestar.com

Dr. Brenda Steinnagel, photographed at her home in Ontario on Sept. 22, is suing her former clinic and the WSIB for wrongful dismissal, alleging the WSIB pressured her employer into firing her when she refused to provide a medical opinion on a claimant that the WSIB would agree with.

PETER POWER / FOR THE TORONTO STAR

Dr. Brenda Steinnagel, photographed at her home in Ontario on Sept. 22, is suing her former clinic and the WSIB for wrongful dismissal, alleging the WSIB pressured her employer into firing her when she refused to provide a medical opinion on a claimant that the WSIB would agree with.

Continue reading

WORKER’S (Injured) WEEK WHICH WAS

April 23rd – MONUMENT TO MOVE ???

At the monthly Thunder Bay and District Labour Council meeting it was announced that the Lakehead Labour Centre had been sold and notice had been given to the Labour Council that they were subject to one month notification to vacate the premises.  This would include the removal of the Injured Workers Monument.  The stature was purchased by the Thunder Bay and District Labour Council and at that time money was set aside for the purpose of moving the monument. The Labour Council is currently developing a list of possible sites for moving the monument.

April 28th

 DAY OF MOURNING FOR WORKERS KILLED AND INJURED IN THE WORKPLACE

The Day of Mourning Ceremony at the Lakehead Labour Centre was a great success   there was over 200 people in attendance.  The event was dedicated to Constable Joe Prevett, James Marchinko and Robert Nelson.  The attendees listened to several speakers including Diana Parker, Ontario Nurses Association and Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, before going outside the Labour Council to lay a rose at the Injured Workers Monument.

Syd Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour had a commentary published in the Toronto Star.  This article can be read at http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/04/27/seeking-justice-for-fallen-workers.htmt

TAKING IT TO THE COURT 

The Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups is running a campaign to raise money for the “Justice for Injured Worker’s Legal Defense Fund”.  This is very important work that is being done for all workers. PLEASE check it out at http://justice4injuredworkers.causevox.com/

 FACT OF THE WEEK

 In his April 28th statement the Ministry of Labour Prevention Officer tried to draw the public’s attention to the high number of Traumatic Fatalities in Ontario.  The problem is that in stating “Over the past ten years, the number of workplace fatalities has not declined in an appreciable way.” He has seriously misrepresented the facts.

FACT  The number of workplace fatalites has increase by 36% over the past 4 to 5 years (source – WSIB stats).

We assume he meant to say that “Over the past ten years, the number of workplace fatalities has increase at a rate unfathomable in any Industrialized State.”

 Upcoming Events

Tuesday, May 5th

Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group – Board meeting –

6:30pm – March of Dimes

Thursday, May 14th

Bancroft Institute for Studies on Workers Compensation and Workplace Injury – Policy and Research Discussion Series #4.

How Characteristics’ of Workers Compensation Systems affect Doctors?  Comparing Quebec to Ontario.

10:00am to 12:30 pm at the Lakehead Labour Centre

 

Labour Minister meets with Injured Workers Organization

ONIWG (Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups) met with the Minister of Labour in January and discussed several topics.  Those topics included Experience Rating, Extended Health Benefits, 72 month lock-in, Indexation/COLA, Deeming, Coverage and the reappointment of I. Greg Marshall.

The minister expressed mixed amounts of support for the issues that were brought forward but agreed to review many of those issues. He made it clear that he saw this appointment as long term and wanted to continue his dialogue with the Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups.

In fact a second meeting has been arranged between the ONIWG and the Premier’s Office.

A more detailed review of the meeting follows for those interested.

A Meeting With the MInister Continue reading