(Canadian OH&S News)
Quebec’s ombudsperson, Raymonde Saint-Germain, has criticized the provincial workplace safety authority for what she calls “an administrative inflexibility” related to the Act Respecting Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases.
The finding was included in Saint-Germain’s 2012-2013 annual report, which was released on Sept. 25 and examined 11 government ministries, including the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST).
In the report, the ombudsperson said that her office had to intervene to make the CSST follow the act, and to stop inappropriate requirements from being imposed on workers.
For example, a worker contacted the ombudsperson concerning the maximum amount reimbursed by the CSST for plantar orthoses, the report said. The CSST reimbursed just $300 of the $430 it should have paid, although the act states that the total must be reimbursed.
The resulting investigation found that since 1993, the CSST’s computer system had been set to limit plantar orthoses reimbursement to $300, even though CSST employees could override this administrative limit. In fact, the ombudsperson wrote, since just 2011, more than 250 workers had been deprived of the total reimbursement to which they were legally entitled.
In another case, a worker complained that the CSST only reimbursed four out of five claims for medication expenses, refusing the fifth because it was more than six months old. “On checking, the Quebec ombudsman found that legally, the agent had no right to refuse these medication expenses,” Saint-Germain wrote. “In fact, the six-month time limit for certain expenses does not apply to reimbursement of medication expenses, which are subject to the three-year time limit of the Civil Code of Quebec.”
Following the interventions by the ombudsperson, the workers in both cases were fully reimbursed.
Excessive wait times and delays on the part of the CSST also resulted in interventions from the ombudsperson, the report noted, pointing to the following examples:
* A decision regarding a reprisal complaint was rendered six months after the hearing and more than a year after the complaint was submitted, far exceeding the 30 days prescribed by law;
* Six weeks passed before an agent began studying a claim for relapse, recurrence or aggravation;
* A decision concerning a relapse, recurrence or aggravation was rendered more than 15 months after the claim, because the CSST neglected to do the appropriate follow-up with its medical expert.
The report can be found at http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/protecteur-du-citoyen/2013-annual-report/2013091204/#0.