Another Case of Municipal Bullying on the Job in Cornwall Ontario – Paramedic Erica Stacey Tells Her Story to CFN & The Journal – March 8, 2012

Hello Mr. Gilcig,

I am writing regarding an article you wrote dated Nov 10, 2011 called,

Some of the Poop on the Pilon vs Cornwall Case, Robert Menagh, Paul Fitzpatrick and the City of Cornwall Axing our Advertising with them because of Anonymous Comments

I was a paramedic for the City until I injured myself at work in Feb. 2007.  I sustained a permanent injury which ended my career.  

CFN –  And that’s how this story begins.   Someone that fell through gaping cracks.  Actually falling isn’t the right word.  Someone that was smashed through the cracks simply for the only reason that they were hurt on the job.  A system that didn’t listen, didn’t seem to care, and simply was looking for the cheapest way to rid themselves of someone who simply wasn’t a cog in the machine any longer.

And they couldn’t even bother to retrain her so that she could do something with the rest of her life as Erica didn’t want to just be “disabled” and sit at home.

When you and I are in trouble what do we do normally?   We dial 911.  When we call for help whether it be Police, Fire, or for a Paramedic do we think about that person racing to our assistance?  But what happens to them if they get hurt? Or worse can’t work anymore?

I haven’t seen a story like this since Boxer the Horse in Animal Farm finally broke down.    For some reason listening to Erica yesterday in the offices of The Journal in Cornwall Ontario connected me to that story.

What should be done when one of our emergency staff are hurt on the job seems very different than what has happened in this situation.

The reason I am writing is because I am in complete desperation to get assistance with my case.

Imagine feeling that way?  Imagine being hurt at the age of 33 and by the time you’re 37 feeling that your life is over?    Imagine not having full use of your right arm and being forced to come into work and being told that you couldn’t cut it washing ambulances and doing tasks that simply put in you further pain, but toughing it out as best you could.

Imagine not being able to take medication while at work because it could “impair” your performance.    Imagine your employer refusing doctors letters that clearly state positions and having the instructions ignored, and imagine eventually ending up so distraught you end up being psychiatrically treated, and losing everything you have and being forced to go bankrupt.

And imagine waking up at 37 wondering what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, or worse ending it.

This isn’t the first case of this nature in Cornwall Ontario.  What is it about City Staff and Management that have led to cases like this one, Marie Anne Pilon, and Diane Shay?   There are a handful of others I can’t mention by name that are in various degrees of action right now; from Arbitration to complaint.     And there are those that simply are in fear of stepping forward.

Is it time for an inquiry here to investigate why Cornwall is having these issues?  Is it the culture emanating from the CAO and management?    Is it time that maybe some of these people lose their jobs?  Is it time to finally stand up to some of the bullies?

Cornwall is a city of “Don’t Tell”.    Project Truth showed that and anyone that did tell is run out of town like Perry Dunlop.    That though is for another story.

We will be adding more about Erica’s case as we’re still editing video and following up on the immense amount of material we have to sift through.

My especial thanks to Greg Kielec of The Journal.   When I was contacted by Erica I called out to him.  In the media it’s not all cut throat.   Getting a scoop sometimes isn’t as important as getting it right and Greg will be covering this story as well.  His knowledge and experience as a journalist has been immensely helpful in moving this story forward.

As for Erica all she wants at this point is to to have a life and hope.   I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.    We’re hoping to find a lawyer that specializes in situations like this  to assist her.

You can email or phone us at or dial 613 361 1755.

Part 1 of Erica’s Story

You can also post your comments below.

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  1. I’m sorry but there appears to be so much information missing here.

    What happened?

    Is this really a city issue or a WSIB or Employment Standards issue?

    I am not sure what was injured, but I can suggest a great therapy and place to see it done correctly. I have back issues and though not chronic pain there is a constant reminder that something is out of place. I was unable to move my shoulder much higher than chest level without severe pain. I seen Chiropractors for years and that was all about keep on coming in and keep on paying me. I had seen a chiro in a different city while away for golf and fun. He had me do a few stretches and told me my issue is not something he can fix, and recommended a message therapist claiming my muscles had all gone into a huge knot.

    Well let me say it is like being young again.
    However it is not without some discomfort. Especially is you try the deep tissue message. I have almost full range of movement in my shoulder; my back has no more discomfort and no more chiropractors.

    This is not traditional therapy but I think it is worth investigating. All to often we trust Doctors to prescribe us medicine but rarely do we find one that uses a more natural method of healing.

    My suggestion in Cornwall is McIntosh therapy on Pitt. It’s not cheap and if somehow you can receive coverage I think you will be quite pleased.

  2. Author

    Hailey we will be coming out with more details as the story states.

  3. As the story stands, it isn’t anything bad. Discouraging? Absolutely! But foul play by the city or government? Hardly. She was injured, therefore was unable to work… light duties were prescribed, but that too was too much for her as taking medications could be inhibiting and therefore not allowed in this job type.

    Perhaps there is more to the story, but how it stands… it is simply a story that should remind us all to not be so dependent upon our employers or government… and perhaps take 100% responsibility for ourselves and our family and ensure we are protected ( insurance wise) when bad things happen.

  4. Response to Jason.

    wsib IS insurance!

  5. I don’t think it was the medication that prevented her from working….. being told you cant have any pain relief was just one issue from what I understand!

  6. We all need to hear the rest of the story to be able to fill in the blanks. Once the whole story comes out, we will clearly see the full picture this city paints (not pretty)

  7. Not sure about this story not all of it seems to be here but in life you have to stand up for yourself and don’t let people step all over you no matter what or report any problems to higher people like your boss or the big boss of the company

  8. It disgusts me when our various levels of governments mistreat those people who risk life and limb for the betterment of our society. Paramedic, Canadian Soldier, Life long Firefighter….it doesn’t matter. When you get hurt and are no longer useful you are discarded like the garbage that they think you are.

  9. I concur Cliff. This isn’t the first time that a level of government has turned their back on a hero to society. Just ask injured war veterans. That’s what these people are….heroes, they always shy away from being called that.

    All my best to Ms. Stacey.

  10. @ Constance…. WSIB does provide disability benefits, but who the heck relies on government only programs? That would be like me depending on Canadian Pension Plan for my retirement, that’s ridiculous and not very prudent. Likewise, people should take 100% responsibility for their own security and buy supplemental disability insurance to protect themselves.

  11. I was reading the story and comments that came with it and I truly believe it’s time for some positive and supportive ones. First off kudos to Erica for coming forward after such a lengthly battle and years of keeping quiet. I’m sure it was very difficult for you to speak about this and make this decision. You must keep a positive attitude and realize that although everyone is entitled to their opinions many are misinformed and don’t understand something they’ve never had to deal with or who have never been flushed by the system.
    Paramedics are often overlooked when it comes to this type of thing. If a police officer is hurt they are re-assigned but never would they lose pay or have to fight like Erica has. I’ve never heard a story like this involving any other member of an emergency service (paramedics excluded). I wonder why? Perhaps because this is a non issue in those professional. If a worker is hurt while performing his or her duties they shouldn’t be shunned or ‘made an example of.’ We have great Paramedics in Cornwall who treat and often risk their own safety to help those in need much like any emergency services worker. Paramedics are exempt from a lot of Health & Safety unlike most workers who can refuse unsafe work, work that could cause them injury. You’ll find emergeny workers sifting through the carnage of an accident, dealing with patients who are bilgerent, violent and abusive. Finding patients in the most precarious position leaving one to scratch their head and try to figure out how to help this person. All these stories go untold because ‘it’s just part of the job.’ When you are abused, bullied and harassed by your own employer who is suppose to have you back that is NOT part of the job.
    Paramedics get injured, their office is not the typical 9-5 shuffle paper work and have their hour lunch from noon till 1:00. Back injuries & shoulder injuries are so prevalent and can easily become a permanent disability. Patients are not found in ‘ideal’ places, they are found up 3 flights of stairs, around a tight corner, wedged between the toilet in a bathroom barely big enough for one person. Oh and did i mention they can’t move and weigh slightly above the average. Proper lifting technique is use your legs and keep your back straight, ya ok once again great for an office worker lifting a stationary box from the floor to a shelf in a lovely controlled situation not a seizing patient. Speaking as someone who has injured his back, a simple back injury can debilitate you for months leaving you useless and in agonizing pain, shoulder injuries are no better. For Erica to be re-assigned to Logistics or washing ambulances umm duh shoulder injury come on.
    The Corporation of the City of Cornwall, the ambulance service and ambulance service management have failed this Paramedic and failed to act in her best interest. The City has an obligation to be accountable to tax payers (1.4 million in ligation (must be nice to have that extra money just laying around) thanks councillor Rivette but they also need to be accountable and protect their employees. This story has so many similarities between other recent ones; Ms. Diane Shay, Ms. Pilon all harassed employees who came forward. This administration has a proven record of poor conduct, poor decisions not to mention a general hate for their employees. It’s time to change the attitude and mistreatment of employees. There are people who have suffered this type of abuse Erica and are to afraid to come forward, I don’t care what anyone says you’re a hero and didn’t deserve any of this.

  12. I see that it is the beginning of the story only but really. These women and men put there bodies on the line every day to help us out. WSIB and the workplace are supposed to help protect us. If in the long run she can not do her original job they should be helping her to retrain. She was clearly willing to work even though it was causing her extreme physical pain. Anyway I support her and I hope that the city takes responsibility for its actions and provides appropriate retraining and support while she is doing it.

  13. Shame on City Hall! When are we going to wake up and smell the coffee?

  14. Wait a minute , why is everyone formulating opinions based on such little information. I am not questioning what hapened but that we are jumping to conclucsions with only part of the story.

    I think we should wait until this unfolds before we start pointing fingers and laying blame.

    I also think it is good that it is brought to light, maybe it can help change practices a little more.

    Go easy freenews. This practice is wht Toews wants people’s IP address.

    The internet is an awsome tool but like any other tool it can do more harm then good if not used properly

  15. @Jason

    You are a great humanitarian. Keep buying insurance.

  16. To Hailey Brown: Put yourself into the position of watching the trauma unfold after you witness a sibling, a son or daughter even a friend, breakdown after being abused. You are seeing and living with this abuse, and realize that someone is responsible to cause this.You know something has to be done to prevent this abuse from hurting anyone else. You do not rationalize the situation, by creating a reason or excuse for the abuser to do these in-humane things to someone. It seems to me you are a person that would blame the abused for being in the wrong place, so brought this upon themselves. To me it appears that a wrong has been done to employees over the years and the staff done nothing to correct the situation. This is revealed by the two cases brought to light by the news media, and now Erica comes forward, you give me the impression you want to take the side of the abuser.

    I have to reject your view in reference to mentioning the Freenews to go easy,and the internet doing more harm then good, because in this case the harm has already been done. Let’s use the internet to bring these wrongdoings to the desk of Mr. Towes, so he can propose changes to correct this.

    How would you handle being abused, and after exhausting all avenues of redress, find yourself alone against the big bureaucratic machine.

  17. This will probably just turn into “another gripe paid off behind closed doors”. We’ll probably never hear what happened in the end or how much was paid out. Hopefully Andre Rivette and the Cornwall Free News will keep us apprised.

  18. @ Jason.

    So you’re saying that having private insurance would stop the abuse by the employer. Or if the abuse was bad enough and you left the job the ‘private’ insurance would support you.

    I would like to know the name of the private insurance company that would have made all of this ok.

    Jason? Do you have an answer??

  19. @ Constance… what I’m saying is as the story stands, there doesn’t seem to be any abuse from the employer, just an unfortunate series of events for the employee.

  20. @ Wow! …. buying insurance and protecting one’s livelihood is smart, not humanitarian.

  21. I have a feeling Jason sells insurance for a living.

  22. Jason: Stick to selling insurance, something you are good at.

  23. What a sad story. Isn’t there someone who can help Erica in her fight for some justice. Thank you Erica for being brave enough to come forward with your story. Ihope you will find someone to help you carry on.

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