Canada School board says it 'inadvertently' paid $7K to teacher with cancer. Now it wants the money back

16:42  15 may  2018
16:42  15 may  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

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a woman sitting on a table: Kasia Da Costa receiving cancer treatment last year. The Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board is demanding she return money she was mistakenly paid while off work.© Kasia Da Costa Kasia Da Costa receiving cancer treatment last year. The Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board is demanding she return money she was mistakenly paid while off work.

A Brampton teacher diagnosed with cervical cancer last year is being asked to return thousands of dollars the school board says it mistakenly paid her while she was home sick.

Kasia Da Costa says she was "speechless" when a letter from her employer, the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board, arrived in March.

After reviewing her file, the letter said, the board determined Da Costa was not entitled to the money she had been receiving and needed to pay back approximately $7,000.

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She said she was, and still is, recovering from chemotherapy treatments. Da Costa hasn't returned to work and her doctors have not given her an all clear on her health.

"For days and weeks I couldn't sleep", Da Costa, 36, said in an interview.

"This isn't my mistake," she said, maintaining the board made the decision about the leave.

Bruce Campbell, a general manager with the school board, says Da Costa has been offered a repayment schedule that would minimize the financial impact on her.

"We are, unfortunately, not in a position to write off or forgive overpayments," Campbell said in an email.

Son born premature

To be sure, Da Costa's employment status was complicated in the past two years.

She gave birth to her son, Nigel, in September 2016.

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He was three months premature.

She had been home with her son for a year and extended the paid leave for the remainder of 2017 because of medical complications involved in his birth.

George Michael et al. sitting posing for the camera: Kasia Da Costa, her husband Derek and their son Nigel, who was born premature. Da Costa was diagnosed with cervical cancer after the birth of her son.© Kasia Da Costa Kasia Da Costa, her husband Derek and their son Nigel, who was born premature. Da Costa was diagnosed with cervical cancer after the birth of her son.

This was approved by the school board, she said, and her return-to-work date was scheduled for January 2018.

But last June, Da Costa was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

In July, she said she told the school board she wanted to access her short term medical leave to undergo intensive radiation treatments.

She said the board informed her the medical leave wasn't possible while she was on the parental leave extension.

Shortly before she was due to return to work, Da Costa said the board reviewed her file and would allow her up to 120 days as short term medical leave, starting in January 2018.

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"I was told to focus on my health and recovery," Da Costa said. "I was just so relieved."

'A complete 180'

The letter that arrived three months later asking for repayment was "a complete 180," as Da Costa describes it.

But according to the board, Da Costa was paid because of a clerical mistake.

"The employee was inadvertently placed on the payroll based on their anticipated return-to-work date, and paid salary for a period of time," Campbell said.

"When the error was discovered, payments were stopped."

Campbell said Da Costa was on "general leave" following the completion of her parental leave.

"Staff who are off work on a general leave are not entitled to receive benefits," he said.

Da Costa is now in the process of applying for long-term disability, though she disputes the board's perspective.

Last week, a friend started an online fundraiser to help Da Costa pay the school board back.

"Do I need this hanging over my head?," she said.

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Source: http://ca.pressfrom.com/news/canada/-74746-school-board-says-it-inadvertently-paid-7k-to-teacher-with-cancer-now-it-wants-the-money-back/

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