Ontario doctor's suit claims pattern of fraud at workplace safety board

June 12, 2017
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

An Ontario doctor is suing the province's workplace insurance plan and her employer, claiming both conspired to try to force her to change her medical opinion about a worker injured on the job in order to save money on the claim.

Brenda Steinnagel has filed a suit against the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and her employer, Workplace Health & Cost Solutions, a company based in Vaughan, Ont., that manages claims under a contract with WSIB.

The suit claims Dr. Steinnagel was fired by her employer this spring at the request of the WSIB after she refused to alter her evaluation of a hospital security guard's head injury – part of a pattern, it argues, of efforts by the insurer to cut costs.

"WSIB and WHCS tried to force Dr. Steinnagel to participate in a fraud upon the public," says a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court. "In a desperate effort to reduce claims paid out, WSIB and WHCS have been conspiring to deny legitimate claims in a shocking display of arrogance and corruption."

The suit alleges Dr. Steinnagel's treatment is part of a broader pattern of fraud that is coming to light because the Hamilton doctor refused to give in to pressure from her employer, even though it meant losing her job.

Asked about other cases that establish this as a trend, Dr. Steinnagel's lawyer Mark Polley said he is trying to find doctors who have faced similar pressure. "From our point of view there's an easy inference," he said, pointing to the actions taken against Dr. Steinnagel and the pressures faced by WSIB to reduce costs because of billions in unfunded liabilities.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

In a statement, lawyers acting for Dr. Steinnagel's former employer, WHCS, said "the claims she has made about improper conduct are without merit" and they intend to fight the allegations.

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