Blog | January 02, 2012

Letter to the Editor in Edmonton Journal
January 2, 2012Re: "Family fears disabled son won't get fair hearing; $80,000 legal fight wins right for new appeal of denial of benefits," The Journal, Dec. 28.The provincial panel that denied the appeal is supposedly a quasi-judicial body bound by the rules of natural justice. How, therefore, could it dismiss the expert testimony of a neuropsychiatrist, an occupational therapist, a psychologist and two psychiatrists, all of whom had assessed the appellant, and instead accept the evidence of a psychologist who had never even met the patient?The injustice of their decision is further compounded by the fact that the testimony they did accept was from an individual with an obvious conflict of interest, having previously served on a board that had originally denied the same claimant.While Premier Alison Redford concedes the appropriateness of Justice Peter Michalyshyn's condemnation of the panel's ruling, she suggests that one case should not be extrapolated to the entire system.Perhaps the premier can tell us how we are to have confidence in the Persons With Developmental Disabilities review process when the review panel does not operate independently of government and is free to dismiss expert evidence in favour of a report from a biased, in-house board employee.By Noel Somerville, EdmontonThis op-ed was published in the Edmonton Journal on January 2, 2012. Read the full piece on the Edmonton Journal website.Noel Somerville is the Chair of PIA's Seniors Task Force