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Sask. widow given compensation after husband’s suicide linked to workplace bullying

Saskatchewan widow given compensation after husband’s suicide linked to workplace bullying
WATCH ABOVE: WCB has paid compensation to a Saskatchewan woman after her husband's suicide was linked to workplace bullying. Meaghan Craig reports.

The wife and widow of a man who committed suicide after months of what she called vicious workplace bullying is now speaking out.

“I didn’t know how bad it was, I mean I knew that he was troubled,” Brenda Duhaime said.

In the months leading up to her husband Robert’s death, Brenda says she watched the love of her life that she had been married to for 36 years slowly become a tormented soul while working for the RM of Parkdale as a grader operator.

“He just would dread going to work and he loved his job. He loved doing what he was doing and he was good at what he did.”

Duhaime was granted stress leave through the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) for two months and just days into returning to work for the RM, he did the unthinkable.

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She said she couldn’t wake him

Brenda said her husband had encouraged her to take a trip to Saskatoon to watch their grandson at a hockey camp and promised to call during his coffee break.

When he didn’t call, she tried to reach him repeatedly and asked her sister to go to the couples’ home to investigate – it was there that Duhaime’s sister-in-law found him unresponsive.

“He was still breathing but she said she couldn’t wake him,” Brenda said.

Duhaime was revived but flatlined half a dozen times en route to North Battleford said Brenda; he was airlifted from there to Saskatoon and had overdosed on heart medication.

On Aug. 31, 2017, the family made the agonizing decision to take Duhaime off life-support.

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“I can’t describe that. I had my kids and a couple of my grandkids were there, other family members,” Brenda said through sobs.

“They unplug everything and you just watch them stop.”

Brenda says her husband had taken his own life after being relentlessly bullied at work.

WCB investigation into Duhaime’s death

Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) conducted an investigation of their own into the matter and sent their findings to Brenda as well as the RM in a detailed letter on Jan. 18.

“Further investigation, including witness statements, have been reviewed and there is sufficient evidence to confirm that Mr. Duhaime had experienced interpersonal incidents that were excessive and unusual in comparison to pressures and tensions experienced in a normal employment.”

WCB would not talk to Global News about the case citing privacy laws. They have also sent Brenda a follow-up letter stating that she is entitled to an initial payment of $13,106 as compensation for funeral expenses.

Global News reached out to municipal office located in Glaslyn, Sask. for the RM of Parkdale, who declined to provide a comment.

What she wouldn’t give to have him back

Brenda has obtained legal counsel but has been told her options are limited when it comes to a civil lawsuit against WCB since it’s classified as no-fault insurance.

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“Clearly there’s fault here, is it no fault? Clearly there’s fault.”

Brenda says she would like the three people that directly contributed to her husband’s death to either step down or to be let go and said she would give her own life instead of his.

“I would give anything but my children’s lives, my grandchildren’s lives” wept Brenda.

“Anything, absolutely anything.”