What about the so-called school bullies?

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ThinkThunder Bay – Readers Ledger – Have you ever reminisced about your school mates, your teachers? What about the so-called school bullies, I’m sure that everyone has seen or been bullied by them. So where did the school bullies go and what are they doing now? I believe that my theory will help you with some of these questions.

I was invited to sit in a Return to Work meeting with an employer, an injured worker and a Return to Work Specialist (which is really just a title given to someone) and this “specialist” was going to get the injured worker back to work in some capacity. He started by giving us a history lesson on the WSIB and how it now has changed and new policies in place where the employee and the employer must cooperate in this return to work program.

Although the “specialist” was in my opinion very ill prepared for the meeting, whereby he had crucial information missing such as; a job description, a job analysis, and updated medical information about the restrictions of this particular injured worker. Information that is vital to a SAFE return to work.

The meeting was going great up until the time that the employer wanted the injured worker to return to work. He was very much cooperating in this return to work, but the dates that he wanted (since his schedules were posted already) was by coincidence the same date that the injured worker’s family doctor and the physiotherapist had suggested.

When the employer stated the date, this is when the “specialist” turned into a bully. He stated that “HE” wanted the injured worker to return to work earlier. Even when the employer argued why this particular date was chosen due to his scheduling and medical opinions, the bully told him that would be fine but he was going to go back to the office and write a letter stating that the employer was not cooperating in this return to work.

At this point even if I was there on behalf of the injured worker, I told the bully, that the employer was cooperating; he’s having this meeting, he’s willing to accept modified hours, he’s willing to accept modified duties, and even pay the worker for hours worked when this should be the responsibility of the WSIB since the employee is not returning to full hours or capacity.

It seems odd to me that when someone is there for the injured worker, now one must be there to protect the employer as well, all because the bully wants this injured worker back to work one week prior to the medical doctor’s note, and the physiotherapists note. ONE WEEK was the difference between the employer cooperating and being non cooperating.

When I asked if the WSIB even looked at the return to work date from the doctor the “bully” stated “I want the injured worker back to work next week” and proceeded in saying “we don’t look at doctor’s notes like we used to and the Case Manager (new name for claims adjudicator) can overrule the doctors and this is what’s happening here”.

The “bully” stated and this is verbatim “even if you are on your death bed, the WSIB wants you to go back to work in some capacity”. This statement is what just blew me away, but the “bully” kept on going “if you don’t go back to work, the Case Manager (yes another new name for bully) will deem you able to work whatever amount of hours he decides and deem you to earn minimum wage, and that amount will be deducted from your benefit cheque”. If this is not bullying to the highest level, I’m not quite sure how else it can be defined.

Finally the employer decided that the injured worker could return to work earlier, and the “return to work specialist” became normal again. The same thing like when you were in school and the bullies wanted your lunch money, they never gave up on you until you handed them the money.

Now to answer the question of where have the bullies gone, in my opinion, they have grown up and are now working at the WSIB and being paid to bully again.

Schools have made bullying a priority concern, more education and emphasis on reducing, eliminating, and dealing with bullies, maybe its time for our Liberal government to take a closer look at the WSIB system and wake up to all the bullying going on.

Injured Workers are still humans, so why does the government allow and keep allowing WSIB bullies to bully, embarrass, and humiliate injured workers without any kind of reprimand. The bullies can simply hide behind legislature and call it “their new policy”. The McGuinty Liberals are well aware of the problems and yet, nothing is being done. What more will it take for this system to be revamped and made to what it was suppose to be. Simply look up Sir William Meredith’s report and recommendation of 1915 and compare it to the system we have today and one will certain come to realize that injured workers have lost a great deal over the years and as soon as we climb one hill, new policies are implemented to put us back at the bottom of yet another hill. Stop the bullying in school, and stop the bullying from the WSIB.

Robert Larocque
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Injured Worker