Renate Schnitzer's Story

Renate Schnitzer - Retired Air Flight Attendant

Renate lying on an inversion tableI was diagnosed with stage one bladder cancer in 2013. Two years later new symptoms appeared, and I was treated for further metastatic disease.

I had worked as a flight attendant on long-haul international flights when passenger smoking was allowed. My work exposure to second-hand smoke in my work environment is unquestionable!

The Good

My work exposure to second-hand smoke was accepted by a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal panel August 28, 2018. (A1702775).

The Bad

Most cancers like bladder cancers evolve over a long period of time before detected. I experienced a significant decline after the surgical treatment when, because of my cancer, I developed a further metastatic disease of non- extremity complex Lymphedema. Treatment options and diagnostic imaging for this rare disease are not available in Canada.

Also, because I was diagnosed after I was out of the “active workforce” and retired from my flying career, there is little compensation. The WSBC Acts and Policies discriminate against Workers “out of the Active workforce” and there is no compensation for pain and suffering or referral to the Long-Term Disability. According to WorkSafe BC Acts and Policies I was informed that I was entitled to healthcare benefits only. Sadly, no other compensation is provided.

The Ugly

I continue to battle the WSBC Acts and Policies as unfair, allowing some workers to fall through the cracks especially in complex situations like mine. I explain and advocate to get the healthcare reimbursements and tools I require, however the system itself, without drastic overhaul, will continue to defeat many. There is constant delay and denial at every step of the WorkSafe process. The appeal process brings further physical, financial, and emotional stress when I can least afford it. So, on top of all the other indignities and physical sufferings I must endure, I must also submit pages and pages of ongoing submissions without end. My healthcare necessities are a continuous debate of review, deny and appeal.

Chess and Beat The Clock

This is not a game; this is my life! I am living it and the constant delay causes uncertainty and stress which continues to worsen my situation. I am missing out on time with my seven precious grandchildren. My home is littered with paperwork and binders related to WSBC review, reimbursements and appeals. Sitting causes swelling and a worsening of my complex lymphedema and is further debilitating.

I truly want my story to draw attention to ongoing unfair treatment of workers with occupational diseases, in the hopes that changes can be made to the Acts and Policies, and that WCB could be Worker Centric as MLA Bains had promised in 2019.