Aug 272012
 

Click on the following link;

http://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abwcac/doc/2005/2005canlii76584/2005canlii76584.html

Scroll down to Para.53 specific to the claim for depression and continuing though to Para 61. The Appeals Commision decision was that the stress associated with her contact with the WCB regarding her claim is reasonable and expected when dealing with disability and an insurer. This decision basically destroys any credibility WCB has when attempting to portray themselves as having compassion, making decisions that are fair and unbiased and treating workers with respect and dignity. WCB spends tens of thousands of dollars on advertisements presenting an image of caring for workers and this is how the Appeals Commision views the WCB.

Click on the following link specific to WCB’s Statement of rights http://www.wcb.ab.ca/public/policy/manual/statements_rights.asp which in reality is nothing but propaganda and lies and even more so when they cannot convince even the morons in the AC that they are different than private insurance companies.

The majority of people who deal with private insurance companies specific to disability insurance are treated much better than workers who unfortunately find themselves under the complete control of WCB. Private disability insurance is guaranteed and a person does not have to prove causation. A person receives disability benefits within a few days or a week at most unlike WCB disability insurance that in numerous cases is never paid despite overwhelming evidence of a work related cause. It is not unusual to have WCB claims that go back 40 years or more. Workers who come under the umbrella of WCB and have their claims denied either commit suicide or commit acts of violence against WCB whereas I have never heard of a person attempting to kill a private insurer or committing suicide because their claim or benefits have been denied by a private insurer.

Major depressive disorders that are assessed using the DSM manual are a common occurrence for workers who submit claims to WCB and rather than assisting workers to become employable, WCB are responsible for the mental and emotional medical conditions suffered by workers because of the way they are treated by Case Managers, DRDRB and the AC and supported by the Alberta Government who have forced workers into a system that does not work and never has worked, all due to a culture of denial that the Alberta Government has simply turned a blind eye to and refuse to do anything to make the system completely transparent and accountable. We elect people to represent us in what is supposed to be a democracy but falls far short of justice for workers because of the contempt the Government has for workers in this province.

 

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
 

Jeremy Loome

First posted: Friday, October 23, 2009 02:24 AM MDT |
Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009 02:49 AM MDT

There is no amount of government corruption and ineptitude sufficient to make it acceptable to take hostages at gunpoint in an office building, as a city man is alleged to have done. That much should be obvious. It should also be obvious that there are systemic problems within the Workers’ Compensation Board leading to such grossly unfair treatment of injured workers that some are pushed to the brink.

Don’t just take our word for it, although a 2006 Sun investigation uncovered a litany of corrupt and dangerous practices within the organization: two separate provincial government reviews, including one led by a retired judge and the other by former MLA Victor Doerksen, concluded that there was a “culture of denial” within the WCB. As many as 80% of respondents in retired Judge Samuel Friedman’s review expressed dissatisfaction with the agency.

The Sun series introduced readers to normal everyday Albertans driven to the edge, including to suicide, others injured by WCB staff, and one man who was simply left to die with minimal help. Most had won the vast majority of appeals against WCB decisions but in some cases were still fighting the agency more than two decades after their struggle began.

The WCB’s response to all of this has been to suggest complainants are a fringe minority, although how that mitigates its past behaviour has never been explained.

The government, for its part, simply lied to Albertans. First, then Human Resources minister Clint Dunford said the issue would be fully addressed, then he delayed for two years, before the Tories casually pulled the plug-in the legislature — after furious lobbying from a business sector opposed to helping pay for potentially millions of dollars in retroactive claims.

The problems at the WCB are so broad that most media agencies won’t even report on cases unless something like yesterday’s incident occurs to push it into “spot news” territory. Simply put, they can’t handle the flood of public complainants against the agency any article draws out of the woodwork.

Wednesday’s drama was utterly unacceptable, particularly given that the vast majority of WCB employees, who are just trying to help people, are pawns of a corrupt system.

But it wasn’t surprising.

THIS IS NOT JUST A PROVINCIAL,OR CANADIAN PROBLEM, THIS IS GLOBAL

http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/comment/reply/9869

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.”