Seems that the Australian Government are also having to perform a review of a corrupt and dysfunctional system which most if not all workers compensation systems are. The buck has to stop somewhere when a public body has been determined to have a culture of denial and is considered to be dysfunctional. The buck stops at the Ministers in charge of the WCB and the Appeals Commission who are or have been turning a blind eye to the abuse of workers and simply ignoring the recommendations of selected bodies such as Justice Friedman and a former MLA Doerkson. What is the point of having reviews of the system and then not doing anything to fix a broken system. Oddly enough the Alberta Education Minister can fire all the members of a school board but the Ministers in charge of WCB and the Appeals Commission cannot or will not fire the dysfunctional members of the WCB and the Appeals Commission when independent reviews of the whole system has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that all the problems of the workers compensation system is because of dysfunctional people making decisions that they are not qualified to make. Time to fire the whole bunch of arrogant, pompous ignorant bunch of misfits that have to be selected on the basis of political patronage and not on their qualifications. It is obvious that reviews must be held at least every two years to ensure that once and if the system is fixed, that it will continue to run for the benefit of workers and not for the benefit of employers. Premiums can be reduced by ensuring that employers stop injuring and killing workers to increase their profits and if that takes filing criminal charges against employers and incarcerating them, then so be it. The safer the work place, the lower the premiums.
An indication of just how dysfunctional the Alberta workers compensation system is can be found by reviewing claims specific to psychiatric or psychological disabilities which I am presently reviewing which are absolutely dumbfounding as to the stupidity of WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission. I say stupid because any one who denies a psychological injury based on the report of a WCB contracted Psychiatrist who determined that the diagnosis of major depressive disorder was not work related and not compensable because the psychological injury was caused by WCB has to be pathetically stupid. When anyone causes bodily harm to another person they are guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years (Section 221 of the Criminal Code) Any first year law student would have advised WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission to destroy the report and not use it to deny a claim. Oddly, two other totally independent Psychiatrists after reviewing the workers files determined that the diagnosis of MDD was caused by an emotional reaction to a work related physical disability which is compensable (Refer to WCB Policy 03-01 Application 6) which is one of the conditions in determining a work related cause. The worker had been diagnosed with failed back surgery syndrome that rendered the worker unable to support himself and his family which was found by the two dissenting Psychiatrists to be not only the major cause but the only cause of his MDD. The diagnosis of MDD was noted to be severe as the worker was diagnosed as being suicidal and homicidal as within the report which I have reviewed, the worker expressed the desire to kill his Case Manager. Obviously, WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission shot themselves in the foot by attempting to cheat the worker from having his claim accepted for MDD and placed themselves in the position of being charged under the criminal code although the chance of this happening when it involves WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission will never happen as the Alberta Government will not and does not prosecute WCB, DRDRB or the Appeals Commission for any criminal actions even though on another claim I requested that the Calgary City Commercial Crime Section investigate and after investigation they recommended that criminal charges be filed. The Crown refused to file charges as it is obvious that the Justice Minister at the time directed that no charges be filed.
Will the Alberta WCB Review Panel come to the same conclusion as the Australian WCB Review Panel or will they simply sugar coat their findings as I believe they will do. At least Justice Friedman had the balls to determine that the appeals system does not work and there was a culture of denial although over a decade later, the Alberta Government has done nothing to fix a badly broken system. The only people who have made any progress are first responders who have been provided discriminatory presumptive status while other workers struggle to have their claims and benefits accepted. Why should some people be given special status and other workers are treated with contempt and abused by the system. What makes first responders any more eligible for benefits than any other or other workers. First responders can like any other worker quit their job if the risks outweigh the benefits. There is no reason why all workers should not be provided presumptive status in all circumstances and then let the “Board” prove their case which is the way it was supposed to be done under an Inquiry system. I believe in total equality with no exceptions regardless of any ones occupation.
It is evident that the Alberta Human Rights Act is seriously flawed when in the preamble it is stated that “all” persons are equal in dignity, rights and responsibilities and then contradicts itself by including only those people who fit into the protected category and excludes all other persons who do not fit into the protected category resulting in treating people differently under the law and before the law. This is evident by the number of times the courts have struck down differential treatment of people who have been excluded with the latest being “age” added to the protected category. This is pathetically stupid legislation that by inclusion, it results in exclusion and having to go to court to have people that are not in the protected category added. Section 15 of the Charter does in fact provide equality to all persons without specifying any protected category but does take note of “in particular” the mentioned protected groups without excluding every one else that does not by exclusion fit into with the people who are fortunate to be included in the protected group under Alberta legislation.
Prior to the historic agreement, workers had the burden of proof to prove negligence and after the historic agreement, in Canada the structure of all workers compensation boards were supposed to be under the control of Provincial Governments. Workers no longer would have the burden of proof as legislation placed the burden of proof on the “Board” who had the resources and exclusive jurisdiction to gather the facts. Somehow this dysfunctional system has changed to an Adversarial system where the burden of proof has reverted back to workers who do not have the resources to fight the workers compensation board along with the Appeals Commission who now represents employers as has been witnessed in the courts where both WCB and the Appeals Legal Counsel are fighting against a worker. Worse yet through legislation, if a court happens to overturn the decision of the Appeals Commission, the court has to by legislation send the claim back to the body who denied the claim and the Appeals commission has the power and right to overturn the decision of the court. Is this not a contravention of the Rules of Natural Justice when the same body who has made a ruling and then is tasked by the courts to rehear their initial decision and then make the same ruling that the court overturned.
In a democratic society we elect people to protect the more vulnerable in our society, yet the Government enact laws to protect the people who wreak harm on the people who are supposed to receive care for work related accidents. Rather than care for workers who have had their lives destroyed by a workplace accident they are forced to fight for benefits who by law are entitled to benefits. The whole system is based on protecting the employer by deliberately denying claims and benefits and then hoping that due to the unavailability of legal assistance, financial ability, that workers will give up and apply for tax payer funded programs such as Social Services and CPP disability benefits.
This dysfunctional system was encouraged and promoted by the former Conservative Government and can be changed from a dysfunctional system to a good system by the NDP Government who could through meaningful change leave a legacy that makes Albertan’s proud of the province we live in and proud of the Government that was elected to fix the problems created by the former Conservative Government.
Click on the following link: http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/review-finds-workers-compensation-complaint-handling-dysfunctional-20170308-gutqn4.html