Government is making it easier for emergency response workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to access benefits.
Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act introduced today, April 28, will ensure covered emergency response workers no longer have to prove their PTSD diagnosis was caused by a workplace incident. They will also further clarify the claim process and who can get benefits.
“We’re grateful for the valuable and sometimes heartbreaking work our emergency response workers do every day,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan. “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.”
While stress due to traumatic events has always been covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, 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 accident during employment
— define who is eligible for presumptive PTSD benefits. This will include police, paid and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, nurses, and provincial and federal correctional officers with workers’ compensation coverage
— allow coverage for other health service occupations to be added by regulation
— further clarify the process to receive presumptive PTSD coverage. Diagnosis will be required from a registered psychologist or psychiatrist.
Government intends to consult key stakeholders following introduction of the bill.
The province is committed to addressing workplace mental health, and co-hosted a mental health and PTSD conference last fall. One of the themes that arose included the need for presumptive PTSD benefits for emergency response workers.
The amendments will take effect upon proclamation.