On March 15, 2016, Mélanie, a healthcare professional, met with Marie-Andrée, an attorney from the occupational health and safety team of the FIQ, in order to follow-up on her file. Mélanie informed Marie-Andrée that she had been on leave from work and that she had been receiving salary insurance benefits since November 2015. When the prosecutor asked her for the reason for this leave, Mélanie told her that she was suffering from symptoms similar to those she had due to a work injury, an unfortunate fall that she suffered almost a year ago, on April 10, 2015.
In order to fully understand the situation, Mélanie and Marie-Andrée reviewed the sequence of events together:
- April 10, 2015: Mélanie was the victim of a work injury, which she made sure to properly report to her employer. She met with her physician on that same day, who diagnosed the injury and provided a medical assessment for the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST). Mélanie was put on leave for two weeks and a medical follow-up was scheduled for April 24, 2015. She filled in the form and immediately sent her claim to the CNESST.
- April 24, 2015: Mélanie met with her physician again, who extended her leave from work indefinitely.
- April 27, 2015: Mélanie received a letter from the CNESST stating that her claim was eligible as an occupational injury.
- May 20, 2015: Mélanie received another letter from the CNESST informing her that her employer was challenging the decision rendered by the CNESST in her file.
- May 21, 2015: Mélanie went to the union office for guidance because she was very worried about the letter from the CNESST. The local representative provided her with some useful information and gave her the FIQ brochure, “Your OHS file in 10 steps”. She also made her sign a mandate of representation in order to allow a FIQ attorney to represent her. Her file was then transmitted and opened at the Federation, which designated Marie-Andrée as the attorney.
- July 15, 2015: Mélanie met with her physician, who stated that her injury was consolidated and that she could return to work on July 27, 2015.
- November 13, 2015: Mélanie suffered from symptoms that were similar to those she felt during her work injury, even though no new event had occurred. She met with her physician, who placed her once again on leave from work, but this time with a medical certificate for salary insurance purposes.
This situation leads us to think that her pain could be related to the injury she suffered in April 2015. This is what we call recurrence, relapse or aggravation (RRA), defined as a progression, a reappearance or an upsurge of the occupational injury or its symptoms, or the aggravation of a personal pre-existing condition contracted out of or in the course of work. Marie-Andrée informs Mélanie that she should have more clearly explained her symptoms to her physician, who could have investigated further and documented the existence of a connection to her work injury, therefore also providing a medical assessment for the CNESST. This would have allowed Mélanie to once again file a claim to the CNESST in order for her health issue to be recognized as the RRA of an occupational injury which initially occurred in April 2015. Even though four months had gone by, Marie-Andrée nonetheless recommended that Mélanie undertake these steps as fast as possible.
What is the moral of the story? Never hesitate to speak with your local union team when you are the victim of a work injury. They are there to inform, give advice and guide you through the appropriate resources in order for your rights and interests to be properly defended in regards to repairing work injuries. In fact, there is a whole team at the FIQ on which you can count!
Do you know ?
On January 1, 2016, the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST), the Commission des normes du travail (CNT) and the Commission de l’équité salariale (CES) merged in order to create a new entity called the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST).
It is your responsibility to fill in the form titled “Worker’s claim” given to you by your employer. This form is also accessible on the website of the CNESST. Although you have six months from the date you suffered the injury to fill in and send this form to the CNESST, it is recommended to do so as quickly as possible, whether it be an initial work injury or a recurrence, relapse or aggravation.
Your rights to protection throughout the OHS file are different than those related to salary insurance (remuneration, maintaining the link of employment, treatment costs, etc.), which is why it is important to declare all work injuries and to investigate all recurrences, relapses or aggravations.
The FIQ covers the costs of representation by an attorney from the OHS team, including the fees for an expert physician if necessary. Once an attorney is given the file, it remains the member’s responsibility to provide them with all the documents that are pertinent to the evolution of her medical condition as well as any document from the CNESST. It is also important to keep the local union team informed of any changes in the file.