“Workers’ (compensation) hurts. It’s been our experience that workers hurts, not helps,” said Glenn Sharpe outside a public consultation held as part of a statutory review of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation system.
Sharpe and Gary Sheppard attended the consultation at the Mamateek Inn in Corner Brook to share their stories with the review committee responsible for preparing a report for government.
Those stories contained several similarities. Both of their wives worked in the retail sector, both women were injured on the job and both have had negative experiences with the workers’ compensation system, including having their benefits cut. Both are still unable to work.
Sharpe and Sheppard feel case workers need to be held more accountable. Sharpe said he had concerns information passed along by his wife Julia was not correctly processed.
“Very important information being left out, in my opinion,” he said. “It hurt her. It cut benefits, it cut off her compensation.”
Julia was injured on the job in 2007 and since then has had six case workers.
“The way that she was treated by those case workers, neglect is the only word you can use basically.”
He said his wife even begged for more physiotherapy because she felt it was helping her. Instead, she was told to have surgery, but it didn’t work.
Sharpe said all meetings and conservations between clients and case workers need to be recorded, and decisions made based on that.
“What they portray in their notes, it hinges on being criminal. It’s not correct. They take a report and take what they want out of the report to benefit them. Not to benefit the worker.”
“What they portray in their notes, it hinges on being criminal. It’s not correct. They take a report and take what they want out of the report to benefit them. Not to benefit the worker.” - Glenn Sharpe
Overall, Sharpe said it’s time to change the legislation and to stop hiding behind it.
Sharpe and his wife sat through the majority of the day’s presenters and said they heard the same things from others.
“It was an echo, the same stories over and over.”
Stories like that of Sheppard and his wife Violet.
Sheppard said his wife has to have 30 to 40 needles in her hip every three months, but getting approval for that has never been easy.
“She’s got to phone her caseworker to beg to go get those needles before they’ll do anything.”
With tears in her eyes, Violet Sheppard said she believes the case workers and system do things “just to make it painful.”
She was told she could return to work for four hours a day, but knows she’s not ready. So in November, her benefits were cut.
Sheppard said it’s wrong that case workers can override a doctor’s opinion.
“Where did they get the training to do it,” he asked.
Sheppard said he knows just where his wife is coming from. He suffered a workplace injury in the past and the treatment hasn’t changed from then until now.
“I would never report another injury,” he said. “Even if I had one leg in the grave and the other one was on a banana peel, I’d die before going back to workers.”
Meanwhile, Sharpe is interested in hearing from others who have concerns with the system. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.