Since 2011 I’ve had no real contact with ArcelorMittal Dofasco. Toward the end of December 2012, I had finally had enough of this treatment. No conversation or aid from this “good corporate citizen” company, no relief from the Firestone Respiratory Clinic, and no aid from WSIB. In an attempt to get something moving I decided it was time to get someone’s attention.
I began looking and found the ArcelorMittal Whistleblower group web site. Their site stated that they deal with complaints and concerns about business practices that questionable and I truly felt that the alliance between ArcelorMittal Dofasco, WSIB and Hamilton Health Science’s Firestone Clinic, fit the bill of questionable practices. I completed the complaint and submitted it just before Christmas.
To ensure that my voice was heard, I also wrote to the Ontario Ombudsman and to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and called my MPP’s office, Andrea Horwath, Leader of the NDP. From Ms. Horvath’s office the response was a simple we don’t deal with WSIB complaints and a suggestion that I talk to the Office of the Worker Advisor. Fortunately for me I have an advocate, and a capable one at that. From the Ombudsman I received the same response, yet on the web site for the Ombudsman, it clearly states that they do deal with WSIB and I only had to wait 5 months for that response.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, CPSO, was the only one that at least seemed an interest in what was going on. After a conversation in January of 2013, the CPSO began what seemed to be a rather intense investigation. Every time I sent in information more release of information forms were sent to me. Eventually they totaled approximately 40 plus forms, for every doctor I had seen including the medical records of ArcelorMittal Dofasco. At the beginning I was told that their investigation would take approximately 10 months to conclude and go to their review panel. They must have found some merit to the complaint because at the beginning of July, I was given 10 days to get another set of forms and rebuttals to their offices for the committee meeting on August 7th. Of course they rendered their decision in favour of the doctors, by the end of September. In conversation with a number of nurses, they were shocked by the events that the doctors and the health care system had subjected me too but they were not surprised by the decision of the CPSO. I was told on more than one occasion that politics now ran the CPSO, and what was important was the image of a functioning health care system.
In May, I had met with a doctor at the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, in Hamilton. When I explained what had happened over the years, the doctor expressed the same concerns as my family doctor years before. Fortunately or unfortunately this doctor had for a time worked for ArcelorMittal Dofasco, though he had left a few years earlier. His report was very detailed and explained that lung capacity was only a part of the injury. The numerous other tests that I had been subjected to over the years showed a heightened sensitivity and the number of accidents showed a steady deterioration of health. This too had been submitted to WSIB and to the CPSO for consideration.
With the results of all of this, I was getting tired and I finally understood why so many injured workers give up! My Advocate launched the WSIB appeal, I contacted ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s HR department to ask about severance. If I wasn’t going to be able to work, there or anywhere, there didn’t seem to be much sense suffering financially any longer. The first person I contacted was quite pleased to tell me that there were no severance packages at this time. Through friends that were still employed there I obtained the email address of the Director of HR, Rob Parker.
I stated in the email to Mr. Parker, that I wasn’t calling to ask because long winded speeches were difficult for me. I told him that I was told that I would be unable to return to any meaningful employment so I was asking to be severed. Mr. Parker told me that I would need to talk to Pensions and Benefits. As I didn’t have 30 years I could see no real purpose except to stall for time, so I did contact the department and I waited for their report. It turns out that I am entitled to a bit more money although most would go into locked in accounts that would not benefit me during the interim. I emailed Mr. Parker to inform him of the statement I had received. I told him that I would wait for him to give me a decision about being severed but I also mentioned that I was well aware of the treatment that people receive once they cross ArcelorMittal Dofasco and for the record I was no longer going to be a willing victim.
With that last statement, once again all conversation stopped and ArcelorMittal Dofasco began their campaign to ensure I would lose my WSIB appeal. Their assertion that my limited spiritual work and bi-monthly newsletter, which has been run since 2002 and has cost more to keep running than I have ever made, was a fully functioning, profitable business. For years I have had a price list of services in the belief that it may at some time become more than a hobby and something to keep me active in my retirement years. It is the one thing through all of this that has helped keep me going. It has been my outlet to inspire people and an escape through which I didn’t have to think on the repercussions of the continuing damage to my respiratory system. Yet it is that part of my life that they chose to point at.
Typical of ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s tactics, their smear campaign went into high gear. Yet I wasn’t about to go quietly into the night. In August, I began a letter writing campaign to the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Health, the Premier of Ontario, the CEO of ArcelorMittal Dofasco, my MPP Andrea Horwath and to the NDP and PC Labour Critics. I had also attempted to get the ArcelorMittal Whistleblower group to at least answer my earlier complaints. Of course ArcelorMittal stayed silent. The responses from the Ministers of Labour, and Health, and the Premier show a disregard for anything that happens to injured workers. The NDP and PC critics and my MPP, Andrea Horwath didn’t even deem it worthy of a response.
Those letters will be detailed in the next blog.