Government is making it easier for front-line and emergency response workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to access benefits.
Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act introduced today, Sept. 25, will ensure covered workers no longer have to prove their PTSD diagnosis was caused by a workplace incident.
“Our front-line and emergency response workers have often witnessed great tragedy, sadness, and loss when helping those in need,” said Labour and Advanced Education Labi Kousoulis. “We want to make it easier for those who suffer from PTSD to access benefits and treatment. These changes are a step in the right direction.”
“I’m pleased that the Nova Scotia government has listened to the concerns of front line and emergency response workers and is addressing them through these amendments,” said Vince Savoia, founder and executive director, Tema Conter Memorial Trust. “This will help ensure police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other frontline workers get the care they need when they need it.”
During the summer, government talked to employees and employers about barriers to coverage and treatment for workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The consultation involved nurses, first responders, correctional services, paramedics, psychiatrists, health sector workers and other organizations. Feedback helped shape the amendments and will inform the upcoming regulations.
While occupational stress due to traumatic events, including PTSD, has always been covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, for all workers, it currently requires covered workers to prove their diagnosis is a direct result of a workplace incident. Some PTSD sufferers avoid getting help because of this process.
The proposed amendments will:
— clarify that PTSD is presumed to be a result of an incident during employment
— define who is eligible for presumptive PTSD benefits. This will include police, paid and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, nurses, continuing care assistants, 911 and emergency dispatch workers, and provincial and federal correctional officers with workers’ compensation coverage
— allow coverage for other occupations to be added by regulation
— outline that new regulations will establish who can diagnose PTSD and time limits for eligibility.
The province is committed to addressing workplace mental health, and the introduction of these amendments is part of this effort.
The amendments will take effect one year from royal assent to allow time for government to work with stakeholders to develop the supporting regulations.
A summary of consultations can be found at https://novascotia.ca/presumptive-ptsd-consultation.