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Thu, November 23, 2006
WCB funds mismanaged, stolen, alleges city advocate for
A city advocate for injured workers says she can prove
thousands of dollars were mismanaged within the Workers' Compensation Board and
may even have been stolen.
And if that's not enough to involve law enforcement, says
Theresa Roper, she also says the agency is using the courts to maintain a
She has a client who was denied benefits because the WCB
ruled he no longer suffers a temporary disability. But the board is trying to
sue the driver who hit him for thousands of dollars, claiming the exact
The WCB would not comment on the cases except to say that
it "cannot speak to the specifics of a claim because we have a legal obligation
to protect client confidentiality.
But it did note that the differences in jurisdiction
between the Workers' Compensation Act and civil law sometimes conflict, said
WCB spokesman Jacqueline Varga.
"Because the common law and the workers compensation system
operate differently, when the WCB advances a lawsuit for workplace injuries
sustained by a worker, it includes all injuries the worker claims to have
suffered in the accident, regardless of whether the WCB has paid compensation
for those injuries."
But Roper says that won't cut it. "The WCB does not accept
Lifemark (a local rehab centre) as a provider for client rehab. They sent my
client instead to the Millard Centre, which determined that he was not
"At the same time, the WCB legal department gets an opinion
from Lifemark that he is disabled, because it is allowed to use that provider,
even though clients are not. So we're just about to go into appeal because
they've cut off his benefits and I see in this brief that they're suing the
other guy for $544,000 because Lifemark is saying he is disabled.
"So what they've done is restricted his access to
rehabilitation, denied him legitimate benefits despite permanent disabilities,
and then turned around and tried to use his accident to make a cool half
The board's rationale is that all of the medical records
show he has a permanent disability, even though they've already turned him down
for not having one, says Roper.
It's not the first case of financial impropriety Roper says
she has uncovered.
Another client was billed nearly $2,500 for "overpayments"
allegedly sent to him by the WCB. Internal payroll documents, which the agency
shared with Roper, show the client was paid $871 a month.
But she has his actual cheque stubs, showing he was only
paid $326 per cheque.
Despite being offered the stubs as proof "they took his
'overpayment' back and then cut him off support for fraud because he had cashed
these cheques, which they said were too high," she said. "They were trying to
claim overpayments that didn't exist."
TOOK CASE TO APPEALS
When Roper took the case to the appeals commission, it
reinstated benefits without commenting on the fact the payroll and cheque stubs
"They just said 'there is no overpayment,' they didn't make
any comment about the errors or anything. It took 17 months from beginning to
end, because of course they had to do a payroll review, which took them six
"But the question that's still unanswered is where did the
"They had an $800-plus figure go out of payroll, but only
$326 issued on each cheque. So in their books, somewhere, $500 just disappeared
from each cheque, which they then tried to pin on my client."
TOUGH TIME FOR CLIENT
Roper is incredulous that the case went to appeals, even
though she had faxed them the cheque stubs and bank statements listing the
"They tried to say that even though he has bank statements
listing the amount deposited, all that proves is that he didn't deposit the
full amount. And my client says 'how would I know the exact difference between
the amount of money I was supposed to be overpaid and how much I deposited.'
And I called the board and said 'look, I'm not meaning to imply that people
within the WCB are stupid. But ..."