Sunday, 27 March 2016

No Justice for Injured Workers

No Justice for Injured Workers

By: Ryan Young

While many of us will celebrate the Easter holiday today with friends and family, there will be one man in particular in the hearts and minds of many Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans. This man will not be having dinner with his family this year. This man was killed in his home on Easter Sunday by a member of Premier Paul Davis’ personal security team. This man was Donald Dunphy.

It is doubtful that we will ever know the full story of what went down that fateful day last Easter. The details of the shooting are still not well known. Other than the fact that Mr. Dunphy was in possession of a weapon, and that he was killed, presumably in defense of what the officer felt was a deadly threat, we don’t really know much at all about the case. The subsequent RCMP investigation has now been turned over to police in Alberta for a full review and we will have to wait until that report is completed until we are given any details about the conclusion of the investigations. Justice Minister Andrew Parsons has promised a public inquiry into the shooting and many people in this province are anxious to find out how a few vague tweets that were being investigated by Paul Davis’ personal security detail, ultimately led to the shooting of Mr.Dunphy in his own home on Easter Sunday, 2015.

It is hoped that a public inquiry would shed light on the chain of events that led to the officer visiting Mr. Dunphy’s home by himself on Easter Sunday. It might also offer some insights into what happened inside the house before events took such a dramatic turn. What neither the police investigations nor an inquiry will provide, however, is justice for injured workers in this province. Don Dunphy was well known to politicians as a vocal advocate for injured workers and as being a constant gadfly on social media. His tweets, which were ultimately perceived as threats by the Paul Davis security team, were only the latest in a constant barrage against government members who were doing nothing for people like him. The investigation and the inquiry may or may not give us a glimpse of what happened last Easter, but it is clear that Don Dunphy will not get the true justice that he so desired.

The way our province treats our injured workers is no less than shameful. The stories of poverty and unimaginable bureaucracy are startling and difficult to listen to. Indeed, Newfoundland and Labrador has higher per-capita administration costs than any other province in Canada for Worker’s Compensation. Despite these high costs, the system has lagged behind to the point that they had to add even more administrators to deal with the current backlog of appeals. The bureaucracy is so bad that many people simply give up and go back to work, despite the inherent risk to their personal health. It is simply better to take their chances than to lose everything trying to make your way through the broken system. In many cases they are the lucky ones. For people like Don Dunphy and many others who are unable to work at all, the system just becomes a never-ending nightmare of poverty and despair.

I am sure that each and every MHA elected last fall heard the same story over and over at the doors. There is certainly no shortage of people speaking out about their own personal situations. Yet neither party included in their election platforms, any type of a plan to deal with this inefficient and unjust system. For the thousands of people suffering at the hands of Worker’s Compensation, there needs to be action now. Dwight Ball promised a government that would remove inefficiencies and ensure better accountability to the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. This would be a golden opportunity for this government to take charge on an issue and prove that they are willing to take action when the bureaucracy becomes too bloated and inefficient. Legislation reform for injured workers is long overdue in this province and if the Liberals are serious about their promise of a more efficient government, taking a good hard look at the Worker’s Compensation system might just be a good place to start.

Nothing we can do will ever bring back Don Dunphy, but we all bear the collective responsibility of ensuring that his death was not in vein. As much as we want to know the truth about what happened last Easter, I think it is just as important that we remember the cause that he would ultimately fight to his death for. By all accounts Mr. Dunphy was a kind and hardworking man that felt betrayed that his government would let him down. His desire to see changes made to the system were what drove him to openly criticize his elected representatives and demand accountability for their continued injustices. All the man ever really wanted was a little bit of dignity.

I will be taking the time to write Premier Dwight Ball today to remind him of what Mr. Dunphy died for, and to ask him not to forget his ultimate sacrifice. I will ask him to stand up for our injured workers and to ensure that they are able to live with the dignity that they deserve. As you all enjoy your holiday, I hope that you can take a few minutes to do the same. The memory of Don Dunphy deserves no less. In the face of all he has given, I think we owe it to Mr. Dunphy to pick up his fight and demand justice for injured workers.

You can reach Premier Ball at

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