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Thomas Brown

Advocate for injured workers (Regina)

Congratulations, Tom. You are providing a much needed service to injured workers!

Thomas Brown

Hi Sheila:

I hope this message finds you well. I've been meaning to write you for quite some time now, but unfortunately other issues have sidetracked me.

I recently built my own website this past July, and I'm wondering if you would consider posting a link and/or article regarding it. http://tombrownskwcb.tripod.com/ Tom's website is defunct. Basically what I've done is gone public with my most recent WCB appeal (June 3/05), of which a board decision is still pending. In addition to posting the actual appeal, I've included all recent correspondences with various government officials and agencies, as well as posted their email addresses. I've also posted links to other articles concerning my WCB case, first and foremost of which is yours.

Prior to starting my website I had half considered asking if you'd be willing to post the information itself on your site, but ultimately I concluded that it was far too much content/work to ask of you. Subsequently, the whole site-building experience has been quite the learning curve for me, and one that has given me a great deal of satisfaction.

It's my hope that you'll consider posting an article and/or link such as this. Regardless, please know that you and your website have been my inspiration to date. Hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely, Tom Brown

UPDATE

One of the most important developments since my story was first posted, is that the injury I sustained as a teenager, has undeniably been proven to be a factor in my 1997 work injury. One might think this is pretty detrimental to my work injury claim, but I can assure you it isn't, or at least it's not supposed to be. After you read the following section of the Sask. WCB Act, you'll realise why.

Section 50 states: The board shall not reject the claim of a worker or a dependant for compensation or reduce the amount of compensation payable by reason of a pre-existing condition of the worker if the injury materially aggravates or accelerates the pre-existing condition to produce a loss of earnings or death.

You would think that armed with this section, my claim would undoubtedly go forward. Unfortunately this was not the case, as that would have had to involve some degree of fairness and integrity on the part of the WCB. As you will eventually learn in the information that follows, nothing is ever that cut and dried with the WCB.

My complaint to The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

January 9th, 2004 marked the 11th month of struggling with the SHRC. My disgust with their assessment can only be rivalled by that of the WCB's.

Despite proving far beyond a reasonable doubt that the WCB discriminated against my previous disability, and that this discrimination was used to deny work injury benefits; the SHRC refused to intervene. Although my file had crossed the desk of the Chief Commissioner, and their staff solicitor, the outcome remained the same. They determined that no discrimination whatsoever had occurred. Their interpretation was that the board had denied benefits as a result of factual issues, which the board has exclusive jurisdiction over.

Ah yes, section 22. This is the section that gives the board exclusive jurisdiction over factual issues. Factual issues for most of us, are issues that are accurate or actual, they're sound issues that are substantiated right? Not for the WCB they're not. The underlying message I received from the SHRC is that the board is free to fabricate any information they choose, label it as fact, and then claim it's within their exclusive jurisdiction. They are then free to use that fraudulent fact to camouflage any evidence of wrongdoing, including their discrimination in my claim. The worst part is, even when you prove this fact is fraudulent (as I did), the SHRC will still not infringe on the board's jurisdiction. They will instead respond, "We do not act as an appeal body to the WCB".

The conclusion I've reached is that the SHRC are fully aware that "Section 22" is in violation of their Code & Regulations. I'm convinced I'm not the only individual to conclude this, and I'm undoubtedly not the first to bring it to their attention.

As far as the SHRC is concerned, my case is closed. Those acquainted with me however, know differently. I'll keep you posted.

My recent appeal to the Board Members

Although my recent appeal effort was denied on January 15th, 2004, I definitely feel that some good came out of it.

Pin pointing the exact reasons the board had for previously denying my claim, was the most difficult part of the appeal process. When you're bombarded with assumptions, unqualified medical opinion, and unsubstantiated facts, it's very difficult to even pick a starting point. However, here's what was ascertained:

1. The board did not accept that an injury occurred, because I continued to work.
2. No aggravation/acceleration of prior condition, because I continued to work.
3. There was no evidence of a specific injury, on a specific date.
4. No evidence supporting my years as a licensed arborist (tree trimmer).
5. It's impossible to sustain a disc protrusion by flexing the neck backwards.

My responses were (same order):

1. & 2. - Same response. Simply put, I was able to continue working because I worked lighter duties. This was discussed orally at previous appeals (but conveniently not noted), however a written statement from my employer verifying this was also provided. In addition to this, I was taking narcotic pain medication (Demerol) on a regular basis, which also helped me to persevere in these duties.

3. There is no legislated requirement for there to be a specific injury, however my employer and I had pin pointed the exact date of my injury. The fact that it was not diagnosed immediately does not mean it didn't occur. I had only worked 2 additional days before seeking medical attention, at which time it was diagnosed.

4. Evidence substantiating 13 of my 15+ year's experience was provided. This evidence consisted of Revenue Canada statements, SaskPower documentation, Arborist certification (renewed annually), and WCB account information for every tree company I worked for (including one I had a minor WCB claim with in 1986).

5. Although we requested medical information substantiating this so-called fact from the board, none was provided. On the other hand, my neurosurgeon once again provided a painfully detailed explanation on how this type of injury can occur in this manner. Given that he is also a Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, he is certainly more qualified than the general practitioner the board has consulted throughout my claim.

The board has not changed their position on my claim whatsoever, nor have they cited any new reasons for denying it. So what good could have possibly come from this apparent exercise in futility you may ask? The answer in a word is, "Proof". Proof that the only reason my claim was denied is because the board is empowered with "The legal right to be wrong", and there is presumably no one to stop these criminals.

Following the board's 1999 appeal denial, and the surgery that disabled me, I felt I had no option than to file a malpractice suit against my neurosurgeon. This decision was not made easily, as I felt the board was initially responsible for my work injury, as well as the subsequent treatment of it. The truth is, I am still appalled that the board had placed my neurosurgeon and I in this position. It is important to note there is legislature that prevents WCB claimants from suing their physicians. That is to say had the board accepted my claim, my malpractice suit would automatically become null and void. It was for this reason that I had postponed litigation, and continued to fight for WCB benefits. The fact that the board is fully aware of my lawsuit, and they continue to wrongfully deny benefits, is clear indication that they have no problem shifting responsibility. It is also a clear indication that they have no concern for other casualties of their corruption, even if they're 1 of very few neurosurgeons this province has.

I now have no choice but to move forward with the malpractice suit, but I will proceed knowing that I've done everything I could to avoid it. Although this litigation will be my main focus, I will find additional means to inform the public of WCB, and SHRC practices. I welcome any comments readers may have, and I am willing to offer help and advice to those in similar situations. Armed with a WCB Policy Manual and 6 years experience with their antics, it's my hope that I can help prevent this from happening to others. Please feel free to use the email link provided. My thanks again to Marilyn Bird of the Worker's Advocate Office for her continued help and support, and especially to Injusticebusters. Without this website, this type of injustice could very well go unnoticed.

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