Grey Power 46 — May 22, 2014

John
John Fryters
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Sometimes in life people might not treat you the way you feel you should be treated.  Of course, the way to handle this assertively is to confront that person in a nice way, and try to reach a satisfactory resolution.  But what if your approach falls on deaf ears, what if the other person works for some government agency, what if it is about a specific service or program that agency is obliged to provide, what if ... ?

Saskatchewan had a brand new Ombudsman and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner installed, effective April 1st, 2014.  Her name is Mary McFadyen.  In a public press release, Mary McFadyen said, “I look forward to building the work already ongoing in both offices and I will carry out these roles in an independent and impartial manner.  The press release further stated that Ms. McFadyen brings a wealth of experience in public administration and ombudsman work.  Her past experience includes roles as Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada; Director General, Legal Services for the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces, and Interim Ombudsman for that office.

The Ombudsman of Saskatchewan takes complaints about provincial government ministries, agencies, crown corporations, boards, commissions, and health entities.  Complaints may be about unfairness such as a decision or action, or failure to act or a delay in service.

Ombudsman Saskatchewan is independent from government, impartial and all its services are free and confidential.  You can obtain more information on its website -- www.ombudsman.sk.ca .  To make a complaint, call 1-800-667-9787 or fax it to 1-306-787-9090.

Many seniors may have heard of the Ombudsman but may not be aware of the different kinds of concerns that they can bring to the Ombudsman.  For instance, many people don't know that the Ombudsman has had a role in health care since 1973.  The office does not take complaints about clinical decisions (that function is part of the role of the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons – more about that in a later column), but the Ombudsman takes complaints about administrative decisions.  For example, she would not review a doctor's diagnosis, but she would review the way the waiting list was being managed.

Also, as of September of 2012, there have been some changes to the Legislation for facilities with residents in care.  One of the important changes was that publicly funded health entities that have residents in their care are obliged to inform those residents of the services of the Ombudsman and of the residents' right to communicate with the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman has produced a brochure that specifically highlights “seniors cases”.  Below is just one such case:

“Ralph (not his real name) was married to Rena (not her real name).  She came to the Ombudsman's office with a complaint about Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board.  Her husband Ralph had worked as a millwright since 1959.  After his retirement he was treated for various breathing and lung problems.  In 1988, he had his left lung removed.  Later he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  

Ralph's Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) was likely the result of his years of breathing in various irritants on the job.  Ralph was assessed and found to have a permanent functional impairment of 45 per cent and became eligible for retroactive workers' compensation.  The Workers' Compensation Board issued him a lump sum earning replacement that dated back to April of 1999 with ongoing independent allowances and ongoing earning replacement benefits.

In January of 2004, Ralph passed away.  It was later determined that COPD was probably a contributing factor in his death.

For Rena, recent years had been difficult ones, caring for a sick husband and struggling with him to receive the benefits they felt he was owed.  When she came to the Ombudsman's office, many of these benefits had been settled, but she felt the retroactive pay should go back further than 1999.

The Ombudsman investigated and found medical evidence from 1998 that pointed to COPD.  As a result, Rena was able to provide new information to the Workers' Compensation Board and was granted an additional sic months of retroactive benefits.”

Further information about the Ombudsman Saskatchewan and specific complaints seniors might have can be accessed through their web site. 

 

 

John Fryters is a 65-year-old senior citizen who, through this column, provides information for and about seniors on a regular basis.  He can be reached at john_fryters@yahoo.com.

Organizations: Saskatchewan College of Physicians, Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board, Supreme Court of Canada Legal Services for the Office Department of National Defence Canadian Forces

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