Sep 062012
 
Workers compensation board to repay nearly $4 million

 

Kevin Bissett The Canadian Press
Posted: Sep 5, 2012 7:35 PM AT
Last Updated: Sep 5, 2012 7:53 PM AT

 

New Brunswick’s workers’ compensation board is repaying close to $4 million to 901 people as a result of a court ruling earlier this year that concluded it was wrong to claw back injury benefit payments from Canada Pension Plan recipients.

The claims, which date back over 20 years, were identified following a provincial Court of Appeal decision in April, a spokeswoman for WorkSafeNB said Wednesday.

Mary Tucker said the Crown agency believed its policy of clawing back workers’ compensation payments from people receiving the Canada Pension Plan was in line with the Workers’ Compensation Act.

“The implications of the Court of Appeal decision have been assessed and case management staff are actively working to implement the directions given by the court and provide redress to those affected,” Tucker said in an email.

“Many have already received payments and others are in process.”

An appeals tribunal repeatedly rejected WorkSafeNB’s interpretation of the Act and overturned its decisions in individual cases. The Court of Appeal backed the tribunal’s position, saying in its April 5 ruling that it “has been right all along.”

Tucker declined to explain why WorkSafeNB followed the tribunal’s decisions in individual cases but didn’t change its overall policy of clawing back workers’ compensation payments. She said WorkSafeNB would not comment further.

Amon Ross said he had to leave his job as a carpenter in 1999 after falling from a ladder. He received disability payments as a result from 2000 to 2005, but that was partially clawed back.

Ross, 72, said he was repaid that money from WorkSafeNB in June. But he added that the claw backs left him in financial distress.

“I had to withdraw all of my RRSPs, trying to make a pension out of it,” he said from his home in Tabusintac in northern New Brunswick. “I had to put it into a (Retirement Income Fund) so I can get a little bit more pension to get on with my life in 2000.”

Ross said he believes he is due interest.

“If I would have had that money in 2000 I would have earned interest on it.”

WorkSafeNB’s repayments come following the case of Wayne Douthwright, who was injured on Oct. 18, 2002, while working at a sawmill in Sussex, N.B.

Douthwright’s claim for workers’ compensation was accepted and he eventually became entitled to long-term disability benefits, which he began receiving in August 2009. Those monthly payments were $766.

After turning 60, he chose to collect Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits at a diminished rate. Those benefits totaled $547.07 per month, which he started receiving in September 2009.

In June 2010, the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission — now known as WorkSafeNB — told him his long-term disability benefits would be reduced by the amount of his retirement benefits and that he would have to reimburse the commission for overpayments.

Douthwright appealed that decision to the appeal tribunal, which sided with him. His employer, JD Irving Ltd., appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeal, but lost.

 

———————————————————————————————————-

 

WCB Alberta were also clawing back CPP benefits but stopped claw backs for workers injured after June 1, 1996. Unfortunately for workers injured prior to June 1, 1996, they continued to claw back workers CPP benefits which are and have been found to be illegal in other precedence setting legal cases. It would appear to me that the Alberta WCB will have to pay workers back their CPP benefits prior to June 1, 1995 and going back to 1966 when CPP was first introduced in Canada, unless the Alberta courts determine that WCB can claw back CPP benefits which I suppose is possible. It would appear to me that the New Brunswick Appeals Tribunal have a far better understanding of case law than the shit for brains Appeals Commission we have in Alberta who never do question the WCA, Regulations or WCB Policy. Of course when we elect shit for brains politicians who select these dumb bastards, workers get people determining claims who haven’t got a clue what they are doing.

 

This is the wonderful system that workers and employers have been forced into by provincial governments that could give a shit less for workers.

 

Gerry Miller

Jun 272012
 

Rather than sit idly by and not providing a review of a claim that like thousands of other claims and benefits have been denied based on false medical information due to either malice or incompetence, I will present a claim that because the process that is supposed to provide a fair and unbiased decision resulted in the claimant, Mr. Milne having to proceed with civil litigation rather than to be subjected to abuse of due process, abuse of power and as well an abuse of an individual through the WCB decision making process.

 

The process itself is and should be relatively easy to follow but unfortunately the doctors and decision makers are either biased or incompetent. From the top down, the minister in charge of the WCB, the WCB BoD and the President of the WCB are incompetent and have no idea how the system is supposed to operate. Put all these clowns together and the result is a system that is in chaos.

 

In order to understand the events leading up to the filing of a civil suit by Mr. Milne the following court cases would have to be read in their entirety. All of the cases can be found on The Canlii web page that describes in detail what Mr. Milne was put through and is still going through with no place to turn to other than a continuation of civil suits that had due process been followed he would have never had to go to the courts. I will provide the links to the court cases for those who are interested or those who are contemplating civil action and the pitfalls that may be avoided by learning from Mr. Milne’s experience. I will present the links in chronological order;

 

http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/highlight.do?text=milne&language=en&searchTitle=Alberta+-+Court+of+Queen%27s+Bench&path=/en/ab/abqb/doc/2005/2005abqb594/2005abqb594.html

http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/highlight.do?text=milne&language=en&searchTitle=Alberta+-+Court+of+Queen%27s+Bench&path=/en/ab/abqb/doc/2007/2007abqb299/2007abqb299.html

http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/highlight.do?text=milne&language=en&searchTitle=Alberta+-+Court+of+Queen%27s+Bench&path=/en/ab/abqb/doc/2007/2007abqb407/2007abqb407.html

http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/highlight.do?text=milne&language=en&searchTitle=Alberta+-+Court+of+Queen%27s+Bench&path=/en/ab/abqb/doc/2008/2008abqb710/2008abqb710.html

http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/highlight.do?text=milne&language=en&searchTitle=Alberta+-+Court+of+Queen%27s+Bench&path=/en/ab/abqb/doc/2012/2012abqb302/2012abqb302.html

From review of Mr. Milne’s court records and my own personal knowledge of Mr. Milne’s claim, Mr Milne was injured in an accident on Nov. 4, 1995. WCB did accept his claim for an injury to his cervical spine which according to numerous doctors should have not resulted in any permanent injury or disability. Despite the fact that there was no medical diagnosis of why he continued to experience pain, he was sent to attend a pain clinic and work hardening program. Numerous medical tests indicated that there were no abnormalities involving the cervical spine, yet he continued to experience pain. He was discharged from the programs and was accused of malingering and treated with contempt for his continued efforts to find the reason for his pain. Rather than being wrongfully accused of malingering, Mr. Milne went out of Alberta for a medical diagnosis and treatment in Minneapolis where it was determined that he had injuries to the cervical spine facet joints which were treated by radial frequency ablation that resulted in Mr. Milne not having to take any pain medications. It was thus established that the cause of the pain was due to the cervical spine facet joint injuries and attributed to the accident on Nov. 4, 1995.

 

Based on this fact, Mr. Milne should have had the decision of the Appeals Commission to deny his claim, overturned and benefits paid, yet his claim continues to be denied by the Appeals Commission who clearly have a vendetta against Mr. Milne for proving them wrong along with their network of WCB doctors, which also included a MRP who also had been proven wrong. This action by the Appeals Commission by not granting a reconsideration based on new evidence and either directing WCB to pay benefits or by sending Mr. Milne’s claim back to Customer Services brings the administration of justice into disrepute. Noticeably also is the fact that Mr. Milne did request that the Appeals Commission subpoena numerous witnesses who were pertinent to his case and the Appeals Commission illegally refused his request despite the fact that the Alberta Court of Appeals has determined that refusing to subpoena witnesses results in procedural unfairness or a violation of the Rules of Natural Justice. By refusing Mr. Milne to subpoena witnesses, his only recourse was to file a civil claim against the doctors who provided false medical opinions and the WCB.

 

To add insult to injury, the Alberta Government is complicit in enacting legislation (Section 34 (4) of the WCA protecting unethical doctors from providing false medical information by not allowing any medical documentation to be entered into the courts which results in WCB’s network of doctors to provide biased and false medical opinions that results in denial of a claim or benefits without any responsibility or justification for their opinions. Questionably is why would the Alberta Government enact legislation that protects doctors from litigation by not allowing a plaintiff to use their medical reports in the courts to prove malice or incompetence. Both Plageman and Barnes had the audacity to claim in the courts that they do not have a duty of care to any claimant because they offer only an opinion and do not provide any medical care. According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons a doctor has the right to provide any opinion they want even if it is knowingly false or misleading and the College justifies this by stating that a doctor’s opinion is simply an opinion and it is the decision makers responsibility to ensure that the opinion is based on medical fact.

 

I have spoke to Mr. Milne on a number of occasions and have met him personally. I have discussed a class action lawsuit with him which would be based on what I consider to be a reasonable chance of success. From research, I have found that there are a number of areas where WCB policy is not in compliance with the WCA which would be the best way to proceed with a class action lawsuit rather to file a class action lawsuit involving individual claims or medical opinions that would most likely result in failure. At present I have three claims that I am assisting the claimants on and will be used as a test run to have WCB, the DRDRB and the Appeals Commission provide a decision on. All claims are long standing claims, one goes back to 1973, and two claims to 1993. All of the claims are backed by legal precedent which was heard and decided by the Alberta Court of Appeal and never appealed to the Supreme Court by either the plaintiff or the Appeals Commission. If any one wants the details, I would be more than willing to explain how WCB policy is not in compliance with the WCA and has not been since approximately 1960. If any workers know of a lawyer or law firm who would be willing to pursue a class action lawsuit based on my findings, I would be more than willing to provide then with the information I have gathered.

 

When I was involved with Justice Friedman in making recommendations to improve the system, one of my recommendation provided by myself was for total transparency in the system which is one of the major problems in the system and can be attributed to the Appeals Commission who believe that all claims are confidential, yet all of the court cases involving Mr. Milne provides his name, the names of all the doctors involved in his claim and as well the media can sit in and listen to the court proceedings. There is absolutely no reason why an in person hearing should disallow the media from attending or for that matter any member of the public. The public has a right to know who the Case Manager was, who the DRDRB member was, who the doctors were involved in the claim. Knowing all of this is the only way that people like myself can analyze a claim which would over a period of time indicate whether a doctor is always providing negative medical opinions, the competence of a Case Manager, the competence of a DRDRB member etc could all be analyzed by total transparency. As a person who has an extensive background as an analyzer (Most of my adult working life) total transparency is crucial in analyzing a claim. Total transparency would allow me to determine a trend in evaluating people involvement in the claim. For example: How many claims have Plageman and Barnes been involved in that were based on false medical opinions? I know a WCB doctor who has performed thousands of impairment ratings that were not performed correctly. How many other worker’s lives besides Mr. Milne’s have these doctors ruined by providing false medical opinions?

 

A recommendation by Justice Friedman was to get rid of George Pheasy who is another major problem with the Appeals Commission. The reason for this is numerous errors in law occur on a regular basis and Mr. Pheasy has no legal background in Administrative Law. He also does not possess any medical knowledge that is a major requirement of some one who is the Chief Appeals Commissioner. My experience with Mr. Pheasy is that he is an arrogant, pompous, narcissistic individual who rather than admitting to making mistakes, covers up these mistakes by refusing to reconsider new evidence that proves the Appeals Commission made a mistake. Covering up a mistake rather than admitting there was a mistake results in civil litigation as clearly in covering up a mistake you cannot then plead that it was an honest mistake. Two claims that I represented workers on resulted in irrefutable evidence that there was a causal relation. Despite the fact that the Threshold Reconsideration Committee did not agree with George, he denied the claim. The other claim went before a Human Rights Tribunal after the Appeals Commission had determined that there was no PCI rating and when the American Medical Association supported me by determining that there was an impairment rating and WCB agreed that there was, he refused to accept the evidence and forbid any one in the Appeals Commission to have anything to do with me.

 

There has been no improvements made in the appeals system and perhaps rather than going through more investigations of how to make the system more accountable and transparent, the Appeals Commission and the MRP should be abolished and any claim that is appealed following a decision of the DRDRB should go into the courts. The Office of the Appeals Advisor should be moved under the Minister in charge of the WCB and staffed by lawyers trained in Administrative Law who would represent workers in the courts at no charge. They also would use their judgement to appeal any lower court’s decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court if necessary. No worker should be represented by any one other than a lawyer which would then make all claims decided on a level playing field instead of the bullying tactics used by WCB, the DRDRB and especially the WCB Appeals Commission used against workers with little education, limited finances and limited medical knowledge. An investigative article in the Edmonton Sun found that all workers who were represented by lawyers or union lawyers resulted in workers having their claims and benefits accepted as opposed to workers who could not afford a lawyer or were not represented by a union.

 

Noticeably is the fact that Mr. Milne was forced to represent himself and has done a remarkable job of doing so. I have great respect for Mr. Milne who despite all odds has not given up and his family has to be very proud of him for being the man that he is. It is unfortunate that the Office of the Appeals Advisor or WCB Advocates take a worker’s money and do not tell the worker that they do not have any legal right to represent the worker in the courts if a worker wishes to pursue a Judicial Review or Judicial Appeal of an Appeals Commission decision. For any one to act as their own lawyer without any legal experience does show how remarkable a person Mr. Milne is.

 

It is also a fact that WCB has spent over two hundred thousand dollars on this claim despite the fact that they maintain despite irrefutable evidence that the injury to the facet joints is not work related. How can it not be work related when, Mr. Milne had no prior history of a spinal injury. Of course, WCB doctors seem to always blame any spinal injury to degenerative disc disease. Noticeably also is that Mr. Milne also is suing WCB for several million dollars which again should not happen especially when the evidence and the final diagnosis by experts have determined that the injury was caused by the work. My advice would be to settle out of court and let Mr. Milne and his family alone.

 

According to Dr. Scanlon, the work hardening program and the chronic pain clinic did in fact cause further needless injury to Mr. Milne and I suppose that this is the reason why Columbia settled the civil claim against them out of court. How many times has this happened when a worker is sent for work hardening, FCE and chronic pain rehabilitation before a diagnosis is made as to the cause of the chronic pain? Common sense and logic would be that as long as a worker has chronic pain, you do not send him/her for a FCE, work hardening or chronic pain rehabilitation. To add insult to injury, any worker who has chronic pain despite normal test results is always sent to a Psychologist who will inevitably determine that the worker is faking the pain or malingering.

 

Based on Mr. Milne’s experience in representing himself, if a lawyer or law firm will not represent a class action lawsuit on a contingency basis, it would be perfectly legal for Mr. Milne to represent the class if he would join the class action and represent himself as being one of the plaintiffs. Of course class action lawsuits or lawsuits such as Mr. Milne filed would not be necessary if the Alberta Government would have a court provide a Judicial Inquiry or Public Inquiry into how the system operates or if not that, to appoint a review committee to hear long standing claims which are in the thousands. In fact I may even agree to sit on a committee to hear long standing claims.

 

The privatization of the Alberta WCB has been a dismal failure and the Government should consider taking back control of a system that instead of helping workers, treats workers with contempt. The assets of WCB belong to employers who fund the system and these assets would then revert to the Alberta Government. Recent studies have concluded that a public system is far superior to a private system who only are concerned with their own self interests rather than the needs of workers. Recent studies have also concluded that private WCB systems shift the costs of claims unto the public system who are forced to provide health care costs and social assistance to workers whose claims and benefits have been illegally denied. The costs for the public system to have these costs of caring for workers has been estimated in the billions of dollars in the U.S. and in Canada would also be in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. Going back to a public system is a no brainer and could have been a platform that the Wildrose party could have used to attain power. I must admit that at one time I favoured a private system but after a careful analysis, I no longer believe that a private system is a viable option. I have no qualms about admitting that I made a mistake unlike WCB, the DRDRB and the Appeals Commission who will continue to fight a worker even though they know they made a mistake.

 

Change is needed and turning a blind eye is not a solution. Because of the adversarial environment that exists with the WCB, excessive amounts of money is spent bullying workers to accept the denial of the claims and benefits. A publicly owned and operated system could eliminate this adversarial environment and reduce staff by 50-75%, thereby reducing costs. Reducing costs could also be attained by a mutual agreement by workers and employers sharing the costs of earning loss insurance which was a proposal made over one hundred years ago but was never considered.

 

Over the years we have witnessed workers like Gregory Jacks committing public suicide where he blew his head off with a shotgun, we have had hostage takings on numerous occasions in Calgary and in Edmonton, we have witnessed rallies and speeches, we have had a commission investigative process, we have had posturing in the legislation by various opposition parties, we have had lawsuits filed against WCB with mixed success, we have had legal precedents such as the Johnson decision by the Alberta Court of Appeals on several occasions supporting workers, we have had the Supreme Court determining in workers favour involving chronic pain, yet nothing has been done to change the culture of denial. It is only through the courts that workers have managed to hold WCB accountable but with no follow up. It is only through the courts that justice will be done or seen to be done and the only recourse for workers is a class action suit against the Alberta Government and the WCB for violating the principle of natural justice, violating the WCA and WCB policies. As some one who has never had a WCB claim, I cannot do any more for workers other than to explain to them why I consider a class action lawsuit and the reasons why I feel that a class action lawsuit would be reasonably successful.

 

Gerry Miller

 

“For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing” – Edmund Burke

 

 

Jun 172012
 

November 23, 2006
Faith Shattered State Of Denial Injured Workers Fight For Their Rights
By JEREMY LOOME — Edmonton Sun

Coffee with Betty Chong is like meeting everyone’s favourite grandparent. She’s a stereotypically sweet little old lady – although she might politely argue the old bit.

Though she’s petite and in her mid-sixties, Chong was, until about five years ago, a care attendant for people with disabilities, mostly seniors and kids with severe handicaps.

Then she hurt herself in a fall. Then she went to the Workers’ Compensation Board for help. Then a WCB rehab testing session broke her back. Then the board wrote a letter to her employer and got her fired. Five years later, she is forcibly retired, lonely, and utterly disgusted.

“They degraded me,” she says. “It was a very degrading process. Every way you look at it you’re just a number to them, you’re not important enough to be treated like a person.”

While working at a seniors centre in 2001, she was knocked over by a client, leaving her with a nasty bump on the head and a broken bone in her foot. Earlier that same year, her wrist was damaged in another care-related incident.

She went on temporary disability for less than a year as she rehabilitated and was happy. In fact, she had faith in the WCB because of its rapid and effective help for her husband when he’d broken a foot two years earlier.

By June 2002, the WCB sent Chong to its Millard Centre for a two-day examination of her ability to work. On the second day, she was instructed by a physiotherapist to lift a 45-pound weight to above shoulder height.

Suddenly, Chong felt pain shoot through her side. She told the therapist, who wrote the incident down. Before the second day of testing was completed, she was sent home.

After her husband took her for x-rays, Chong was shocked to find she had a compression fracture in her back and ribs. She called the WCB and told her case manager – only to have the physiotherapist deny there was an incident.

“I’m not a demanding person. I try to get along. I’m not looking for their money, I just want to prove that they’re wrong and that they lied. The woman who hurt me was so scared about losing her job that she didn’t care, she didn’t care about my back, she didn’t care that it was hurting. And she just didn’t write the report up on it.”

In fact, there was no reference to the incident in Chong’s WCB file. So her advocate, Theresa Roper, checked Chong’s other file, at the Millard Centre. Sure enough, there were handwritten notes indicating she’d complained of a “knife-like” pain and was unable to finish the second day of testing.

Roper was stunned when the case manager rejected her submission for coverage of a second accident. She demanded a medical consultant review the file. When the medical consultant found no evidence of a new injury, Roper checked with the doctor, only to discover the WCB had not sent him the Millard Centre file.

Not that it mattered. Even with that information, the WCB not only turned Chong down, it then sent a letter to her employer, Strathcona County, saying she was no longer fit to work in home support due to her age and medical history.

Chong was terminated by the county, and the WCB then decided she was able to return to work at a “medium level” of employment. “The WCB suggested I go to work as a cleaning lady at a motel at the very west end of the Yellowhead. So even though it was right across the city and work that my back pain would make difficult to do, I thought I’d go look at the place. And it’s a dive. And I’m wondering, ‘Who do they think I am, exactly, that I would take this?’ ”

By now, Roper was becoming incensed. They’d not only proven a WCB therapist severely injured her client, they’d also proven the same worker lied to cover up the incident, only to see Chong’s case manager side with the worker, then gotten her fired, then tried to force her back to work.

Roper went over the case manager’s head to a supervisor, who noted on Chong’s file that he felt the therapist was being fraudulent.

Finally, after two years, the WCB relented and paid retroactive disability and home maintenance benefits.

A year later, in 2004, the agency decided that, despite her chronic pain, Chong was fit to return to sedentary work. It took another year for Roper to get that decision overturned and Chong was awarded a lump sum for the back injury.

But she has never returned to work, and the pain in her back rules it out. The people Betty helped were her social circle, so she doesn’t get out much. Besides, she’s afraid that if she slips and falls, she’ll need help from the WCB.

– – –

Betty Chong’s story might sound horrifying. But it’s relevant for more than its shock factor: All of her problems came after the government promised to appoint a contentious claims tribunal, then reneged.

She wouldn’t have qualified for it, of course, because the tribunal – a result of two damning studies in 2000 of how the WCB treats injured workers – was supposed to address a “culture of denial” that led to unfair rejections of disability claims back to 1988. What Chong represents, however, is proof that injured workers still face such a culture, according to workers’ advocate Theresa Roper.

Roper gets paid a flat fee per case, and it’s low. Her income wouldn’t pay a part-time custodian’s salary. She isn’t in it “for the money.”

“Ultimately, if there’s a system set up to take care of people, it should actually happen,” says Roper. “And what it comes down to is that I have hundreds of claims I’ve handled where there is something seriously wrong with the behaviour and conduct of the board.”

Advocate Kevin Becker sees the same. “Case after case after case. They’re not even hard to find.”

It’s a lack of accuracy in case management that wouldn’t be acceptable to private insurers, says Rick Vermette, the former chairman of the WCB appeals commission.

When asked why he thinks the WCB has routinely over the last two decades had 50% or more of its decisions rejected on appeal – despite an appeal system Vermette and others argue is already biased against workers – he is perplexed.

“You know what? That’s a really good question that I don’t recall anyone ever asking before.”

Former WCB case managers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blame a bureaucratic climate within the WCB. Case management is done in a repressive and fearful atmosphere, where it is made clear daily that the objective of the WCB is to save money, and staff bonuses are in part structured around how quickly files can be closed. Despite being named by one group as one of Alberta’s ‘Top 25 Employers’ of 2006 for offering a multitude of innovative benefits, staff paint a far different picture.

“Staff put up with this stuff because it’s their career, it’s their livelihood. It’s their mortgage,” said David, who spent years in the organization. “When I worked there, internally staff called it ‘The Workers’ Compensation Borg: You will assimilate.’

“As it became more and more of a statistical environment, it became more and more difficult to ‘creatively’ manage these individual cases. And under that intense internal pressure, a lot of people would just break down. The turnover rate there is unreal, and I would say there wasn’t a day go by when I couldn’t walk around and find someone crying at their desk.

“And now that it’s all about numbers, instead of people, it’s just about impossible for an advocate or a claimant to call a case manager without it automatically being adversarial.”

The average blue-collar guy would have no chance taking on the system, David said. “Justice shouldn’t be better for people who have more knowledge than someone else, or tougher on a simple journeyman than on a wealthy executive.

“But the truth is, they skim the surface and they weed out anyone they think they can beat pretty easily.”

– – –

Workers’ Compensation Boards were established nearly a century ago across Canada under the Meredith Principles, which are guidelines to reduce potential liability facing employers and to guarantee workers fair coverage.

The most fundamental is that of natural justice: it must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. But another former WCB staffer says between the internal jostling for advancement and heavy-handed management, justice doesn’t get much consideration.

“If you’re good at what you do or do what’s best for your client, then you’re seen as a troublemaker or a threat. You’re supposed to just shut up and do what you’re told,” says John, who also requested anonymity.

“The way it operates goes against the legislation, it goes against policies and it goes against the Meredith Principles. The most experienced case managers there were the ones who didn’t get promoted, because they weren’t willing to do anything to help the WCB’s position and to hurt clients. That’s why so few of the experienced case managers had cases going to the appeals commission.”

Often, says Roper, the case file is “closed” simply by sending the person back to work prematurely. She has three copies of one worker’s labour market description – a supposedly unchangeable list of a worker’s qualifications and abilities. It has been changed three times, including twice in one day, to reflect decisions that have gone against the worker.

“It’s just crazy. He simply can’t do a basic requirement of the work, and yet they’ve gone to great lengths to demonstrate he can.”

After one too many complaints, John was fired from his case manager job “without cause” and given a settlement. At the time, he was upset. “But now I look back and think it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Most people just quit eventually, because once you have any degree of experience, why would you stay in that environment?”

But many do because the WCB is a great place to work, said spokesman Jacqueline Varga. “Every year, WCB Alberta employees participate in an anonymous employee satisfaction survey, which measures employees’ overall satisfaction with their work environment and internal support services,” she said.

“In 2005, 93% of employees said the WCB was a good place to work. We don’t have this year’s numbers yet but are confident they will be equally as strong.”

The agency retained 90% of its staff last year, Varga said, “an impressive statistic given the opportunities that abound in Alberta’s workscape.”

During his many years working for the board, John says he never once heard management discuss the need to help injured workers or the importance of what they were doing.

“Never. Never once. All I heard from management is: ‘We need to cut costs, we need to cut claims.’ We never heard anything positive about what we did or why we were doing it.

“When I looked at the WCB, I always figured there was that 10% of people who wanted something they just didn’t deserve, something that they just hadn’t earned. But the other 90% really did need the help. And they just weren’t getting it.”