Aug 072012
 

 

Click on the following link http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/20120606/SAG0801/306069972/workers-compensation-bill-draws-union-criticism

Other occupations seek better access to WCB coverage for PTSD

By: Megan Sarrazin | Posted: Wednesday, Jun 06, 2012 06:00 am

A government bill aimed at making it easier for first responders to claim post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is facing criticism for failing to acknowledge other vulnerable workers.

The proposed Workers Compensation Amendment Act introduced last week by Dave Hancock, Minister of Employment and Immigration, makes PTSD a ‘presumptive’ illness for first responders including firefighters, police officers and paramedics.

“When you name particular [jobs], you automatically eliminate thousands of others,” said Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). “Restricting it to certain jobs is the wrong way to go about it.”

Although the amendments are a “good first step,” he said they fail to recognize that the illness is present in a variety of occupations dependent more so on the working conditions.

“Anybody potentially can experience a traumatic situation,” he said. “There’s environments all over the place where workers are exposed to traumatic events and situations.”

Current rules require employees to prove that their illness is a result of job-related duties before a claim is accepted by the Workers Compensation Board (WCB).

Shawn Friedenberger, communications advisor at WCB, said the process is the same as any other claim, requiring individuals to tell their employer, doctor and WCB.

“In the case of PTSD, the most challenging component is confirming the diagnosis as doctors follow a pretty precise diagnostic process,” he said via email. “Once the diagnosis has been confirmed … we make sure the trigger that caused the PTSD was work-related and pay any benefits needed.”

This process would remain in place for all occupations excluding first responders, who would not have to prove the trigger was work-related.

WCB records indicate that there were 22 approved claims of PTSD since the beginning of 2010 — only six of which were claimed by first responders.

The remaining cases were claimed by workers in a variety of fields, including transit operators, social workers and accommodation services managers.

Kevin Grabowsky, regional president for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said he is concerned that correctional officers weren’t included in the amendment.

“If you look at everyone that they’re putting into this act – firefighters, EMTs, police officers, peace officers and sheriffs – well, we’re all of that in one job,” he said. “We’re the first responders to everything that happens inside those penitentiaries.”

Grabowsky spent 33 years working in correctional institutions and said there is no reason correctional officers should be excluded.

“We walk the meanest streets in Canada because everybody is a bad guy,” he said. “We play certainly a big part in public safety and we see a lot and deal with a lot of bad things.”

He said the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers is looking at the next step to advocate for correctional officers and have them included in the amendment.

Social workers are another vulnerable occupation that would like to be included in the Workers Compensation Amendment Act.

“[Social workers are] going into situations that are quite volatile and violence is possible, so I think it makes sense to put our profession on the bill,” said Lori Sigurdson, representative with the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW).

She said many social workers have a large caseload, which puts an increased demand on already scarce resources.

The government’s move towards zero-based budgeting threatens this demand further, she said, adding it will put further stress on social workers.

Sigurdson said the ACSW has discussed the amendment and is working with several other groups to obtain better access to PTSD coverage.

Smith said individuals who are not listed in the bill and are experiencing a similar situation to first responders could potentially make a claim that the legislation is discriminatory.

Debate on Bill 1 will continue when the legislative session is resumed in the fall.

 

 

Any one with half a brain could have predicted that this would happen. Only a moron would introduce a bill providing discriminatory presumptions to a specific group of workers which includes only first responders and excludes all other workers. This moronic legislation began when an MLA by the name of Richard Magnus introduced a private members bill giving presumptive status to firefighters for certain cancers, followed by presumptive status for firefighters specific to heart attacks while excluding all other workers who had much higher risks than firefighters for cancers and heart attacks. The problem with exclusion by designating a specific occupational group to receive special benefits while excluding all other occupational groups results in discrimination. To combat the insanity of exclusion, a private members bill has to provide presumption for all workers which was the original intent of the Meredith Principles and placing the entire burden of proof to the contrary on the “Board” who has the financial means of acquiring the knowledge specific to causation. Placing the burden of proof on a worker is a breach of the agreement between workers and employers that formed the basis of the Meredith Principles when they went from a civil system to an administrative system that was supposed to place the entire burden of proof onto the “Board” . Instead of having claims adjudicated under administrative law, claims are adjudicated under civil law where the worker becomes a plaintiff rather than a victim with the “Board” being the defendant and the employer being represented by the “Board” who pays bonuses to Case Managers to have claims denied based on the deliberate false medical opinions of the “Boards” network of dishonest medical advisors who the Alberta Government protect by legislation specifically Section 34(4) of the Alberta WCA where a doctor’s opinion even if they admit they lied, cannot be sued unless it can be proven that the medical opinion was based on malice rather than financial gain.

Introduction of Section 34(4) of the Alberta WCA does indicate that the Alberta Government is complicit in protecting WCB’s network of doctors who are not held accountable or responsible for providing knowingly false medical opinions for financial gain.

 

Gerry Miller

Jun 222012
 

Click on the following link http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/workcover-changes-are-messy-ofarrell-20120622-20rg7.html

The NSW government has now agreed to exempt firefighters and paramedics and not just policeman which for any one with a reasonable amount of intelligence results in two classes of workers, those that are exempted from legislation and those who are not exempted. This is the same situation that exists in Alberta and as well across Canada where firefighters and now all first responders are given presumptive status and other workers are not given presumptive status which in my humble opinion results in a class discrimination. According to human rights legislation and as well, the charter, when people are treated differently, this results in discrimination which is illegal. All people are supposed to be treated equally under the law and before the law.

There is absolutely no reason why the NSW workers compensation would have a 4 billion dollars debt, other than through gross mismanagement. Many workers compensation systems are in debt because of poor investment practices. Studies across America have concluded that work reported injuries are drastically down due to workers not reporting accidents for fear of losing their jobs, yet costs to administer the system have skyrocketed with many workers compensation systems blaming medical costs rather than admitting they lost money through poor investment practices. The same thing that is happening in NSW has been happening across America where workers are having their benefits reduced or eliminated due to worker compensation systems debt load and unfunded liabilities. Many people are of the opinion that the debts incurred by WCB systems should be shifted to the governments who are directly responsible for the mess they have created and is something I agree with. Notably, the WSIB are over 14 billion dollars in debt and are contemplating reducing or eliminating benefits which results in shifting the costs to government sponsored programs such as CPP disability programs and provincial social services programs. Over a hundred years ago, the historic agreement between workers and employers was to prevent workers from becoming a charge on family, friends and society and a hundred years later workers are a charge on family, friends and society. That being the case, what is the point of having workers compensation systems? Why have a system that has now become a two tiered system where you have two classes of workers, firefighters, first responders who have dual taxpayer and employer full earning loss benefits as compared to other workers who have no earning loss benefits even though they are supposed to be guaranteed earning loss benefits from worker compensation systems.

Gerry Miller