Plight of WorkSafeNB lawsuit plaintiff not unique, doctor says

A family doctor testifying in the case of a Saint John man suing WorkSafeNB says several of his patients have also been denied prescribed treatment without explanation.

Dr. Barry Wecker hopes provincial review of workers' compensation system will lead to changes

Murray Goodwin alleges WorkSafeNB abused its authority and was reckless with his claim. (CBC)

A $5-million lawsuit against WorkSafeNB is back before the Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John.

Murray Goodwin is suing the workers' compensation system for allegedly failing to give him the proper care and respect he says he deserved after a workplace accident in 1987.

A family doctor who testified as an expert witness in the case this week, says Goodwin isn't alone.

This is a system that has to be changed and I'm not going to back off.- Murray Goodwin

Dr. Barry Wecker says he has seen many injured workers who have been victimized by a dysfunctional system.

He cited several cases where he said WorkSafe overruled him without explanation. As a result, he said his own patients were denied prescribed treatment, including diagnostic tests, chiropractic care, and medicine.

"The problem with WorkSafe is that there is no labour union that will stand up for injured workers. So who defends them? They go to tribunals. They go to appeals processes. There are ombudsmen. And sometimes that's effective. But not always," Wecker told CBC News.

"The man in the case today has been battling this for 27 years. He's almost in tears up there. He wants some resolution."

WorkSafe review complete

Wecker says he's faintly optimistic that a WorkSafe review, announced last April, will bring some improvements.

The independent consultant who wrote the report submitted it to the government three months ago, CBC News has learned.

The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour says it's under review and will be made public, but it's unclear when that will be.

Goodwin says he has spent $200,000 — all of his life savings — fighting his case, which has been winding its way through the courts since 2009.

"Murder trials take less time than this," he said. "This is the system that has to be changed. And I'm not going to back off."

Goodwin, who is now in his 70s, says he hasn't worked since 1987, when he had a bad fall while working on a tugboat in Saint John Harbour.

He contends WorkSafe failed to appreciate the severity of his injuries and he was repeatedly denied treatment and surgery recommended by doctors.

Goodwin is accusing WorkSafe of gross carelessness, claiming it inflicted far more damage on his life, than the original accident.