Action taken against eight York University employees over false insurance claims

CityNews has learned that York University has "taken action" to address false insurance claims involving eight employees. Mark McAllister has more.

By Mark McAllister, Meredith Bond and Jessica Bruno

York University has investigated and taken action against eight employees as a result of false insurance benefits claims.

Sources tell CityNews the employees work in at least two departments, Housing Services and Parking Services, and in one case, the fraud was related to a fake orthotics claim.

They add at least one employee is no longer with the school.

In a statement, a spokesperson for York University said the school administration takes instances of false claims very seriously and has a robust process in place for addressing possible fraud.

“The university thoroughly investigates suspected cases and works with the insurer in these matters to seek repayment of claims and refers suspected cases to police,” they said.

York U would not confirm what action was being taken against the employees.

Employment Lawyer Jon Pinkus explained to CityNews that it’s usually the benefits provider who will alert an employer of irregularities or potential fraud.

“They’re going to be undertaking an investigation, and that will notify the employer of some irregularities, some potential fraud. They’ll undertake an internal investigation and report to the employer,” said Pinkus.

“And if it turns out that the employee or employees have been involved in this fraud, almost invariably those employees or employee is terminated.”

Pinkus added it’s in the best interest of the organization not to take action until the investigation is complete.

“The last thing you want to do is suspend an employee or worse, fire the employee and then actually [you find out], this was a mistake, so you really do have to wait until you get that conclusion.”

CityNews has reached out to the local union, CUPE 1356, representing members providing custodial, grounds and maintenance work as well as parking, security and transportation services, but did not hear back from a representative before the publication deadline.

It’s not the first case of widespread benefits fraud at an organization that receives public funds.

In 2014, the TTC began investigating a healthcare products and service provider who was allegedly issuing fake or inflated receipts. As a result, 223 employees were dismissed, resigned or retired, and 10 transit employees were charged with fraud.

A few years later, Baycrest Hospital in North York was forced to fire 150 employees amid allegations they defrauded their benefits plan of millions of dollars over the past eight years.

Baycrest Health Sciences said the losses are estimated at $4 million to $5 million. Their benefits plan was 75 per cent financed by taxpayers and 25 per cent by employees.

There has been no word at this point if any more employees are being investigated or if any criminal charges are being laid.

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