Bob Doiron argues WCB 'cherry picked' evidence to cut off his benefits
CBC News has learned the Liberal candidate in District 11, Bob Doiron, is involved in a legal battle with the Workers Compensation Board. In court documents Doiron says workers compensation is accusing him of abusing the benefits program — allegations he strongly denies.
Doiron has applied to the P.E.I. Supreme Court Appeal Division to review a decision by the Workers Compensation Board Appeals Tribunal.
Doiron told CBC he was cut off of benefits and denied payment of surgery, which he says he needs to repair a hip injury he got on the job.
Doiron has worked with Campus Security at UPEI for 30 years and says he fell running down some steps at work in Oct. 2015.
Doiron said he did return to work part-time but because of his injury he couldn't run or respond to emergencies, so he was put on desk duty.
Even desk duty he said wasn't an option, full-time.
"It gets to be very painful if you're sitting for more than three to four hours a day and it puts pressure on the tear that I have."
Doiron said he's seen chiropractors, physiotherapists, his family doctor, and two orthopedic surgeons. "They all confirm this is a severe injury," he said.
Can't run, squat or sleep
After consulting with a specialist he said he was told he had a tear to a tendon in his hip.
"That doesn't allow me to run or squat or sleep very well. It's very painful." Doiron said he ended up collecting workers compensation benefits for nine months.
Doiron said he saw an orthopedic specialist in Halifax in July 2016 who told him he could fix the tear in four-hour surgery and schedule it within a week or so — but the bill would be $20,000.
After submitting the estimate and the diagnosis to the Workers Compensation Board, Doiron said his benefits were cut off.
"Something that could've been fixed a year and a half ago has made me suffer for this last year and a half and now I have to go to the court system to see if I can get some answers."
The Workers Compensation Board said it can't comment on specific cases due to confidentiality.
However, in an email to CBC — speaking generally about its policies — the board said, "Where an investigation results in a finding of abuse or fraud, the Workers Compensation Board will proceed with appropriate action."
That action can include discontinuation or reduction of benefits, recovery of outstanding payments, corrective discipline or termination or suspension of employment, according to the email.
In court documents filed by Doiron, it is stated that the Board Tribunal found that he "engaged in program abuse and knowingly misrepresented the truth or concealed information."
Doiron strenuously denies those allegations.
He told CBC News the board took surveillance video of him working in his garden and exercising at the gym — activities he said his doctor approved as long as he doesn't overdo it.
"I can whipper snip for an hour. I can walk my dog. But if I do too much, the next day I'm in pain and I can't sleep," said Doiron. "I didn't know I wasn't supposed to do that."
During the byelection Doiron is campaigning door-to-door.
'Videos, Facebook messages, Twitter': Byelection candidates going door to door and more
"I understand it might look bad in somebody's eyes, but you know, you don't walk in my shoes. I'm in a lot of pain. You know I take short breaks, I'm in and out of the vehicle … I go home every day at lunch time. I go to bed early … I might walk around and smile but you don't understand the pain I'm in."
Doiron believes the system favours the Workers Compensation Board and he's making workers compensation fairness an issue in his campaign to represent District 11.
"Accusations fly at me and I have no recourse," he said. "I'm fed up and tired and I just want to change some of this stuff."
"This is another type of insurance and I feel that I could've been fixed. I did injure myself at work, it's a known fact and they choose to go down another road and present a case against me. It's been a terrible struggle for two years to fight them on this."
Without benefits, Doiron said his union negotiated his return to work three hours a day, three days a week.
He said he's taking the rest of the time in vacation days and sick leave he's accumulated over 30 years at UPEI — leave he estimates will run out in about a month.
No date has been set for his appeal in court.
"All I want is my leg fixed and some of my sick and vacation time back," he said.
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | P.E.I. student takes call from PM before speaking at UN
MORE P.E.I. NEWS | Philip Whittaker sentenced to 15 months for decades-old sexual assault