A Sydney paramedic who says she is not well enough to safely go back to work is upset the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) cut her benefits.
Becky Anthony says she was injured on the job in 2012 when she was forced to lift a stretcher because the wheels on it would not lock into place. She says with the incubator on the stretcher, it weighed about 400 pounds.
Anthony says the incident caused migraine headaches and pain in her neck and back.
She says her doctor recommended a rehabilitation program that involved hours of weightlifting and therapy combined with a gradual return to work over an eight-week period. However, her pain increased and she had to quit the program.
Anthony says that's when WCB cut her benefits.
"My neurologist has sent in numerous reports to them stating what my injury is and exactly why I can't go back to a job that involves lifting,” she said. “What they want is more medical. My work advisor needs more medical information from him in order to carry on with my tribunal."
It's been 14 months since her benefits were eliminated, but Anthony says she can't file an appeal. While she has a letter from her family doctor explaining why she had to leave the rehabilitation program, she says WCB wants more information from her neurologist. She has asked for it, but has had no response.
Andrew MacNeil is an appeals commissioner with the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT). He says the number of cases that take more than six months to settle has increased by 20 per cent.
“Virtually all that difference is now accounted for by delays in receiving medical evidence. I can't say that it's typical, but it's becoming more common," said MacNeil.
He says many people don't realize that they can file an appeal without all of the necessary records. WCAT can order WCB to get the information from the doctor involved.
MacNeil says the WCB often has more success getting the information than an individual.
Anthony is not represented by a union because she was a casual employee. The union representing full-time paramedics, the International Union of Operating Engineers, says they receive a few complaints every year from WCB applicants waiting for doctor reports.