Claims of workplace fraud exaggerated

I would like to respond to an old editorial about Worksafe B.C. claimant fraud. The writer of this editorial states that injured workers

who get denied Worksafe B.C. compensation have claimant fraud to blame, yet there are no statistics given on claimant fraud.

Studies (Paul Leigh, PBS.org) have shown that WCB claimant fraud is quite low. In California, worker fraud is less than three-tenths of one percent of all claims, and in Wisconsin it is less than a tenth of one percent of all claims. So why did Worksafe B.C. deny 7.3 percent of claimants in 2008?

Were they all fraudulent claims? I don't think so. We, the injured workers, pay for other things as well, and it starts with Teleclaim, Worksafe B.C.'s new injury reporting system.

Before Teleclaim you wrote in your own words who, what, why, where, when and how, now you tell a Worksafe B.C. employee over the phone and they write it all down, you hope. Any mistakes they make can and will affect your claim.

We, the injured workers, also pay for case manager errors and opinions. Some case managers put their opinions before facts. My case manager told me I had degenerative back disease. Both my neurosurgeon, who physically looked at my spine, and my family doctor said there was zero evidence to support the degenerative back disease claim. I was denied compensation, and lost the review decision. WCAT allowed my claim.

So why deny so many claimants? One thing to know is that Worksafe B.C. invests the money they get from employers. Say you have a claim that could potentially cost WCB $20,000; it gets denied by WCB. That money stays as an investment, collecting interest.

WCB has 150 days to make a decision on your claim review, should you choose to have it reviewed, and you should. Say the review officer agrees with the case manager and denies your review, then you get to appeal the case, WCAT has 180 days to make a decision on your appeal. So that is 330 days total that the $20,000 sits in an investment, collecting interest.

Worksafe B.C. doesn't pay interest, so even if your claim is approved by WCAT, Worksafe B.C. still gets all the interest collected. In 2007, Worksafe B.C. "investment income was $1.1 billion" (www.worksafebc.com).

So if studies have shown WCB claimant fraud to be less than one percent, and Worksafe B.C. denies 7.3 per cent of claimants, I am curious as to where the writer of the editorial got their facts that made him/her think that fraudsters are to blame.

I have emailed the offices of Terry Lake, Kevin Kreuger, Cathy Mcleod and Worksafe B.C. regarding the lack of workers' rights when it comes to workplace injury insurance. I have not received a response from any of them.

DAMION LUTRAAN

Kamloops

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