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District 11 candidate Bob Doiron taking on P.E.I. Workers Compensation Board over benefits

District 11 Liberal candidate Bob Doiron works the phones Wednesday at his campaign headquarters ahead of Monday’s byelection. (Dave Stewart/The Guardian)
District 11 Liberal candidate Bob Doiron works the phones Wednesday at his campaign headquarters ahead of Monday’s byelection. (Dave Stewart/The Guardian)

District 11 Liberal candidate Bob Doiron is taking the Workers Compensation Board to court after his benefits were cut off following an on-the-job injury.

In court documents, the board alleges that Doiron has abused the benefits program, an allegation the Liberal candidate vehemently denies.

Doiron has applied to the P.E.I. Supreme Court Appeal Division to review a decision by the Workers Compensation Board Appeals Tribunal.

It all stems from an incident that Doiron says took place on Oct. 30, 2015, where he was working his job as a campus police officer at UPEI.

“I was rushing to lock a door at the vet college and I slipped down two and a half stairs and kind of fell into the wall,’’ Doiron told The Guardian on Wednesday. “I didn’t think much of it, thought maybe I had pulled my groin . . . no big deal. I got up the next morning and something was just not right.’’

So, he went to see his doctor and was told to take the weekend off, but that didn’t work. Then, he saw a chiropractor because the pain had spread to his back. They tried laser treatment and acupuncture, but Doiron said neither helped.

Then it was off to a physiotherapist. Doiron said he could barely walk after they tried some exercises.

He was sent to an orthopedic surgeon where X-rays were taken. Doiron also received a cortisone shot, but it didn’t help.

Doiron was sent for an MRI in Moncton on April 8, 2016, and referred to a specialist in Halifax.

“Meanwhile, since I’d been hurt I was on compensation (and) I was getting benefits. I was going back to work three hours a day. They said work as much as you can tolerate it.’’

It was desk duty. Doiron said he wasn’t able to perform normal duties required of a police officer, such as respond to emergencies.

“I take breaks through the day. I can walk, but I can’t run. I didn’t do anything wrong. They have me walking my dog. They have me whipper-snipping around my house. If they caught me running down the street or squatting heavy weights . . . then I’d say you caught me doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I never tried to hide anything.’’

The MRI showed a tear in his hip that Doiron says required a four-hour surgery and 12 weeks of rehabilitation. The bill was going to be in excess of $20,000.

He says workers compensation wanted him working more hours and was questioning the doctor’s findings. Workers compensation wanted to consult with its own doctors, Doiron said.

“They first told me ‘You have a groin injury and you should be back to work within 17 days’. Well, we couldn’t get a (proper) diagnosis until six or seven months.’’

Doiron said he was told by the Workers Compensation Board that “because you won’t work full time hours . . . , that’s where I was cut off’’.

In court documents filed by Doiron, it states the board found he “engaged in program abuse and knowingly misrepresented the truth or concealed information.’’

Doiron added the board also took video surveillance of him in his garden and at the gym, but he isn’t apologizing for anything.

“I take breaks through the day. I can walk, but I can’t run. I didn’t do anything wrong. They have me walking my dog. They have me whipper-snipping around my house. If they caught me running down the street or squatting heavy weights . . . then I’d say you caught me doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I never tried to hide anything.’’

In the end, Doiron isn’t sure what it will mean, if anything, when voters cast their ballots in the byelection on Monday.

“The only way you can make a difference is to be at the (government) table and try to make things better for people. This (Workers Compensation) Board has to be changed, and the only way to do that is to get into government and do your best.’’

In response

The Workers Compensation Board declined to comment on Bob Doiron’s case when contacted by The Guardian on Wednesday. The board explained that to protect the privacy of its clients, it can’t discuss any personal information related to specific Workers Compensation Board claims.

However, in an email the board pointed to its fraud prevention and investigation policy, which applies to workers, employers, service providers, board employees and the board of directors.

“The WCB strives to prevent abuse and fraud through risk management, early detection, communicating stakeholder obligations under applicable legislation and policy, rigorous internal processes, public participation in the detection process and increasing employee awareness through training.

“Where an investigation results in a finding of abuse or fraud, the Workers Compensation Board will proceed with the appropriate action. The action taken for a worker will be determined based on the circumstances of each case and may include the discontinuation or reduction of claim benefits.’’

 

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