Decision #62/99 - Type: Workers Compensation
An Appeal Panel review was held on March 4, 1999, at the request of the claimant.
Whether the claimant should be provided with a propane stove.
That the claimant should not be provided with a propane stove.
In November 1983, the claimant experienced a sharp pain in her back region while attempting to lift a box of cucumbers. The claim was accepted as Workers Compensation Board (WCB) responsibility and benefits were paid accordingly.
On December 11, 1996, a meeting was held between the claimant and a WCB Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant (VRC), to discuss a possible vocational rehabilitation plan. At the meeting, the claimant inquired whether the WCB would provide her with a propane heater and propane tank. The VRC documented that prior to moving into her present home the claimant had lived with her parents. The house was given to the claimant by her father. The house was currently being heated by an electrical heater and a propane stove/oven. The VRC stated that it did not appear the wood was ever a primary heat source for the claimant in the homes that she had lived (her father's home or her current house). "Although I recognize that this new home is different in terms of its heating demands, I believed that [the claimant] actually had the option of still staying with her father if she wanted to but chose not to. In any event, the change in her situation would not appear to be due to her compensable condition." On January 7, 1997, the VRC decided that the claimant was not eligible for a propane heater. This decision was later appealed by a worker advisor acting on behalf of the claimant.
In a submission, dated May 21, 1997, the worker advisor contended that the claimant should be provided with a propane stove to help heat her home. The worker advisor was of the position that the issue raised by the claimant should be considered acceptable as "in our opinion this claimant's work related injury occurred while in the course of employment with an employer covered under the provisions of the Manitoba Workers Compensation Act." The worker advisor relied on WCB Policy 43.00 (Vocational Rehabilitation) and subsection 27(20) of the Workers Compensation Act (the Act) as a basis for his appeal.
On May 30, 1997, the Review Office confirmed the previous decision that the claimant should not be provided with a propane stove. With regard to WCB policy 43.00, Review Office considered that "quality of life" did not include the necessities of life, i.e. heating one's residence. With respect to subsection 27(20) of the Act, Review Office was of the opinion that providing the claimant with a stove would in no way "assist in reducing or removing any handicap resulting from ... [her] injuries". On January 8, 1999, the claimant appealed this decision to the Appeal Commission and a non-oral file review was arranged.
At the time of her compensable injury, the claimant was living in a remote northern community. Following the accident the claimant continued to live in this community. She currently resides in a house provided to her by her father. When developing her vocational rehabilitation plan, the claimant elected not to relocate to a centre with better employment opportunities. She presently receives full wage loss benefits in addition to vocational rehabilitation services. Had the claimant not been injured, she still would have had to deal with her problem of inadequate heating. This problem is clearly not the WCB's responsibility. Therefore, the claimant's request for a propane stove is denied and the appeal is hereby dismissed.
R. W. MacNeil, Presiding Officer
A. Finkel, Commissioner
R. Frisken, Commissioner
Recording Secretary, B. Miller
R. W. MacNeil - Presiding Officer
(on behalf of the panel)
Signed at Winnipeg this 26th day of April, 1999