ST. JOHN’S, N.L. (The Canadian Press) — Newfoundland and Labrador’s ombudsman has determined that Don Dunphy was treated fairly by workers’ compensation prior to his 2015 death in a police shooting, but suggested that counselling services could have improved his experience.
Citizens’ Representative Barry Fleming released a report Thursday in the investigation into how Dunphy was treated by Workplace NL over more than 30 years of handling his three claims, which included a fractured pelvis that was crushed between a bulldozer and a dump truck.
Dunphy was an injured worker who frequently aired his frustration with workers’ compensation on Twitter.
Fleming’s investigation found that Dunphy was not considered to be a challenging claimant by the agency until he created his Twitter account, where he repeatedly described himself as a “crucified injured worker.”
Fleming concluded Dunphy’s claims were treated fairly. However, it informally recommended that the agency educate claimants about the purpose of the workers’ compensation program early in the process and offer social work and psychological services to injured workers who have trouble coping after their injuries.
Joe Smyth of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says he shot Dunphy in self-defence in April 2015, after the 58-year-old man aimed a rifle at him while the officer was investigating tweets flagged by the staff of then-premier Paul Davis.
Smyth has testified at an inquiry into the death that although Dunphy was not considered a threat, the disgruntled injured worker had posted disconcerting tweets over his frustration with workers’ compensation and political inaction.
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