Tammy Gray, hurt on the job nearly five years ago, to face another appeals tribunal
SAINT JOHN - It's been almost five years since a laundry cart fell on Tammy Gray at Fundy Linen, and her pain has only worsened.
The physical pain to her left leg is nearly unbearable and the leg may need to be amputated.
But the struggles she faces getting adequate housing through WorkSafe NB are what brings tears to her eyes.
"I don't know if I'll make it through again," she told reporters at MLA Abel LeBlanc's office Wednesday. "I don't have the energy now."
Gray was talking about yet another appeals tribunal that will be set in motion as her case drags on.
In February, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overruled a decision that originally favoured Gray, 37. LeBlanc, Liberal MLA for Saint John Lancaster, tried to influence the impartial tribunal while serving as a witness, the court ruled.
Gray, who lived in cramped social housing after the accident, was looking for help to find a "barrier-free home."
The court ruled it would be reasonable for WorkSafe NB to provide Gray with a fully accessible home.
But since facing ridicule in public housing, and sustaining injuries in three falls, she has taken her 13-year-old son and moved in with her parents.
"The bureaucrats have done absolutely nothing since this decision to provide Tammy with a barrier-free residence," said Bob Davidson, a worker advocate, at LeBlanc's office Wednesday.
"This in the face of their own occupational therapist stating relocating her was the only option."
So Gray's case will again move to an appeals tribunal, he said. Her advocates will also write a letter outlining their concerns to new Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock.
After the press conference, a handful of supporters picketed outside the Saint John head office of WorkSafe NB on Portland Street. Gray's father pushed her in a wheelchair as supporters waved placards such as "It's about respect."
LeBlanc, Gray's MLA, has been trying to help the single mother for years.
"We have bureaucrats out there who are hellbound to not look after injured workers like Tammy Gray," LeBlanc said.
"The person I'm blaming here, out and out, is Doug Stanley," LeBlanc said, referring to the president and chief executive of WorkSafe NB. "He's not doing his job."
Davidson said a case manager at WorkSafe, the former Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, told Gray this week to go to the provincial welfare system and get in line for public housing.
It's backwards and unfair, Davidson said.
"Dollars are being spent from the tax pot that should be spent by the workers' compensation board, and it's keeping their assessment rates artificially low," he said. "The public of New Brunswick are subsidizing the employers' responsibility of looking after injured workers."
Dave Greason, vice-president of WorkSafe NB, said due to privacy legislation he could not comment on Gray's specific case.
But he said the Crown corporation provides a large range of services to injured workers based on their medical need - including wage benefits, rehabilitation assistance, job location assistance and retrofitting their home if necessary.
"I certainly don't think that's turning a blind eye," he said in a phone interview.
Gray was visibly upset throughout the press conference, wiping tears and struggling to stay composed.
"It's just gone on too long," she said. "My whole life has changed. It's been destroyed."
Her marriage broke down and she doesn't want to stay with her parents anymore, she said.
"I just want to be able to live."