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Business Gets Richer on the (Broken) Backs of Workers - B
& K's WCB Story
These are all things that have been sacrificed in our
family. Not due to the injury, but due to WCB not paying what they are
there to pay out.
In June 1997 my husband fell over 30
feet to the ground while on a job site. He was following proper safety
procedures, but his safety harness failed.
He did lose consciousness,
but only briefly. He was taken by ambulance to Hospital . They did
x-rays on his neck and on his hand as a finger was obviously
dislocated. Although he was sent home that night my husband was in
a hard neck Collar for 3 months and a soft collar after that he had
dislocated his neck but the bones had fitted back almost into place. To
this day his C6 and C7 vertebrae are off kilter. He was in a lot of pain
and discomforts which he blamed the collars for rather than the injury.
Our lives had already started changing. I was relieved we
didnt have to worry about money as at least we were covered by
My husband starting drinking slowly
working up to every day, then he started drinking a lot. He wanted to go
back to work. He had always been a good worker, and although he had done
other things he loved working outdoors or doing mechanics. Growing up he
had always worked on farms on weekends, and he had studied agriculture in
college. He was use to working 60 hour weeks and then working on a car,
or helping a friend at the cottage or remodeling the basement on the
weekend. Sitting at home doing nothing was difficult.
Doctors gave him the Okay to go back to work. They would not let him go
back to the same occupation, but would allow him to work as a mechanic with
reduced lifting. Despite having his Doctors approval it took
another 2 months to get WCBs approval to allow him to go back to
work. It was during this time that WCB cut him off for the first
time. They said since the Doctors had told him he could work they
werent going to pay him anymore, but that he couldnt start the job
he had lined up because they had to approve it first. In one breath they
said he could work, and in the next they said he couldnt! I tried
talking to them to see logic; my husband had tried and hadnt gotten
anywhere. With two months without his money Christmas was tough that
year. In January we got a cheque that was a little less than what he was
owed. I cashed it and paid bills. Two days later WCB calls to say
they issued the cheque to us in error. It was suppose to pay someone that
they had hired to treat my husband. It told them I had paid bills and
that they owed us money and to deduct it off the money they owed us.
After speaking with a Supervisor they finally agreed they owed us and that they
would deduct the money.
Finally he started training on the job
program where the employer gets funding to partially pay for wages. It
was difficult. He kept missing time due to pain, and he couldnt do
what he had done before. He had hoped that if he built up his muscles
again that he could get back to normal. I could see that it wasnt
happening but didnt want to discourage him. I thought he would be
able to figure it out on his on. He still saw his neurosurgeon, and they
considered operating, but then decided it was too risky.
still received partial disability cheques, and received a non-economic loss
payment to cover pain and suffering and non employment related costs. It
was a cheque for just over $3,000. My husband that would never be able to
snowmobile again, who had just the previous month been told by a WCB
Occupational Therapist that he would be unlikely to survive any whiplash type
injury, my husband that cant play physically with his kids, cant
shovel the snow off the walk, and can barely work on his car, received just
$3,000 for his non-economic loss. If he had been able to sue, how much do
you think he would have gotten? If he had been in a car accident, how
much do you think he would have received?
My husband went through a
number of jobs, all the while trying to find employers that could accommodate
work restrictions, reduced hours, and time off when the pain was too
much. The man that had never had trouble holding a job was having trouble
doing anything. My formerly clean-freak husband couldnt
motivate himself to put his dishes in the sink. And he was drinking very
heavily. His Doctor wanted to put him on pain killers, and finally he
caved in and started taking Tylenol 3s not a good
combination with drinking 8-9 beer every day. Things got worse.. He
became depressed and started taking anti-depressants. The doctor sent him
to a Psychologist, who referred him to a Psychiatrist. Once he started
treatment he stopped drinking and joined a 12 step program. The 12 step
program was full of other people with Chronic Pain a high percentage of
them injured workers.
During this time we happily had a set of twins,
and I become pregnant with our third child. It was difficult living far
from home. We were originally from back East, and our parents were still
there. Now with the kids it seemed to make sense to make the move.
My husband had tried staying home and looking after the twins, but even that
didnt work out so well. Even when they were babies he had
difficulty lifting them, and going out anywhere with them was impossible.
We took advantage of my year long maternity leave and moved back East. It
was an expensive move, and I took a big cut in Salary and benefits when I found
my job in the East, but at least we were close to family to help us out.
In 2003 WCB finally got around to review my husbands case
they had been promising since 1999. We had asked them to pay him full
benefits different times that he had been unable to work. Their
suggestion had been to get EI sick benefits which we did out of
necessity. One time they tried to open up a new claim even the doctor
specifically said it was the result of the original claim. Not that it
mattered as they refused to pay more than $300/month either way. One
thing we did get them to cover was my husbands drugs. When we moved
East the benefits at my old workplace stopped. For 6 of the 7 years since
my husbands accident private insurance coverage through my work has paid for my
husbands prescriptions. Now who do you think is really paying for
that? Dont you think its the middle class people who buy
insurance that paid for his drugs instead of WCB?
Paying for the
prescriptions this time was short lived. In April 2003 when my husband
was flown west for his WCB assessment he saw many medical people. One of
them was a Psychiatrist with a Medico-legal specialization. I think you
can probably guess what his findings were. This Psychiatrist, whose
specialty clearly indicates he gets involved in legal matters, was paid well
for his opinion. The opinion supported the people that were paying
him. Are you surprised? He also discredited the other Doctors that
had treated my husband. The WCB took the opinion of someone they hired;
who saw my husband for 90minutes, over the opinion of the Doctors that
had been treating him for 6 years. My husbands benefits were cut off, We
appealed. We were denied. We went to the final level of appeal
we were denied. Despite all kinds of Drs saying this is all
linked to falling and dislocating his neck. Despite the Canada Pension
Plan saying he cannot work in any job and that his injury is severe and
Our life is different than it would have been. Our
cars are beaters, and we would have been bankrupt long ago if I was not
well-employed, and now since this final decision we are just bankrupt. My
husband cant look after our kids so they go to daycare. I
dont have a choice about whether to stay home with them or not as my
husband cant work, I have to work. I cant decide to work
part-time. I have to work full-time in a job that will provide benefits
to cover prescriptions and other medical expenses. I have 2 hrs travel time to
get to a job that offers good benefits. We have trouble making end meets,
but its not only us that this affects financially. It also affects
every Canadian tax-payer.
Our family gets more Child Tax benefit,
because WCB doesnt pay my husband compensation he deserves.
family gets more GST Tax credit, because WCB doesnt pay my husband the
compensation he deserves.
Our family pays less tax because my husband
doesnt get the compensation he deserves.
Our family gets daycare
assistance because my husband doesnt get the compensation he deserves.
My drug plan from work is charged more because my husband doesnt
get the drug coverage he deserves.
We are lucky in some ways as I can
work. Who do you think ultimately pays for families that have to go
bankrupt because they arent paid what they deserve? Who do you
think ultimately pays for families that must go on government income support
programs, or Canada Pension Disability plans?
Society as a whole
subsidizes compensation by providing all these benefits, and yet still the
injured worker is still not getting as much financial compensation as they
What would it do to you if you or your spouse was
injured at work and you could not get what was justly due you? How long
could you last? Would your kids still be able to play hockey and take
their dance lessons? Would you still be able to invest in RESPs and
RRSPs? Would you have to take on more work hours or a new job, or
perhaps give up pursuing more education.?
These are all things
that have been sacrificed in our family. Not due to the injury, but due
to WCB not paying what they are there to pay out.
system is unfair. The leave they onus on the Injured workers to prove
their injury beyond a shadow of a doubt. The WCB takes no note of Human Rights
Violations. The Business world and the rich get richer
all on the
backs of the rest of us.
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