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$27 a day: West Kelowna woman challenges WorkSafeBC compensation rates
Kelowna Capital News - 2/18/2021
A West Kelowna resident is challenging her compensation rate from WorkSafeBC after she suffered a workplace injury nearly ten years ago, and she's asking for community support.
Melayna Neufeld, now 24-years-old, had just started going to university in Surrey when she was 17. To support herself while studying, she worked part-time at ABC Family Restaurant, now Ricky's.
One day, she was carrying a buffet table.
"One end of the table got stuck on the carpet and my ankle got slammed between the door and the table because somebody came and pushed on the door."
Her ankle was shattered and as a result, Neufeld had to undergo a series of surgeries to fix it.
"I got a donor bone grafted as well as bone grafts from both my knee caps," she explained. "I've even got cow bone, cartilage, we've tried everything to fix it."
"But it was too badly slammed and damaged, so now I'm a below-the-knee amputee… I had my amputation done in June 2020."
As a result of her injury and the subsequent surgeries throughout the years, Neufeld wasn't able to finish her criminology degree, hasn't been able to get back to work and for the last eight years. The compensation she receives for her workplace injury is $27 a day.
She has said WorkSafeBC has also refused to give her permanent disability benefits because her wage is too low. She doesn't get coverage for physiotherapy or even home modifications so she can use her wheelchair at home.
Now she's raising funds for a lawyer who can help her fight for a better rate and help her get the coverage she needs. First, she started collecting bottles and then a neighbour set up a GoFundMe campaign for her.
WorkSafeBC determines compensation rates based on the last 12 months that an individual has worked and the amount of income they have earned during that time.
In Neufeld's case, she was a minor working part-time. By the time she was injured, she had only worked for three months.
WorkSafeBC stated on its website that if the worker was under 25 and sustained a workplace injury that would impact their future career, it would determine the wage rate based on what the individual's future earnings would have been, but that never happened in Neufeld's case, who was working towards becoming a family lawyer. She said this is exactly what she's fighting for and hopes the community can help her.
"I need a lawyer to help me appeal the rate that WorkSafeBC first gave me. As long as I make $27 a day, I'm not even qualified for re-training. I can't move up and I can't move on."
To donate to Neufeld's GoFundMe, visit her page. If you wish to donate bottles, you can drop them off at the Columbia bottle depot on Kent Road under her phone number: 778-581-8895.
Kelowna Capital News reached out to WorkSafeBC, but those calls have gone unanswered thus far.
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan