Beginning Oct. 26, it will be easier for frontline and emergency response workers with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) to access workers’ compensation benefits.
Changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act introduced last year mean those in frontline and emergency response occupations no longer have to prove that a diagnosis of PTSD is work-related.
“We all value the work so many Nova Scotians do to keep this province safe, and to care for us when we need it most. Sometimes they need help, too,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis. “Making benefits more accessible is an important step in supporting those who have dedicated their lives to making ours safer and better.”
Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia has taken a leadership role in streamlining access to benefits related to mental health. WCB has established a dedicated team of case workers to better meet the needs of those with psychological workplace injuries, including PTSD. Those case workers receive ongoing education from mental health clinicians.
Over the next year, WCB will also develop an evidence-based PTSD prevention program in collaboration with first responders.
“By the very nature of their jobs, some workers are exposed to traumatic and violent events, which can have a lasting impact on both their physical and mental health,” said Stuart MacLean, CEO of WCB Nova Scotia. “These changes will help frontline and emergency response workers get the care and support they need quicker and more easily.”
The updated regulations clarify who is eligible for presumption and who can diagnose PTSD.
Eligible workers are police, paid and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, nurses, correctional officers (including youth workers in a correctional facility), continuing care assistants, emergency-response dispatchers and sheriffs covered by the board.
“Frontline and emergency responders are the very people you need by your side in a time of crisis, and I’m pleased to see government take this important step on their behalf,” said Jason MacLean, president, Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union. “I look forward to working with government to ensure more workers have access to this new benefit.”
Occupational stress due to traumatic events, including PTSD, has always been covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, for all workers. This will continue. For the purposes of a claim, PTSD must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or registered psychologist.
Eligible workers with a PTSD diagnosis received on or after Oct. 26, 2013, even if they were denied benefits in the past, can refile a claim.
To begin the claim process, or for more information on how to file a claim, call 1-800-870-3331.
For more information on the regulations, visit http://www.novascotia.ca/presumptive-ptsd .
Nova Scotia announced new regulations today, which will ensure more workers will have easy and immediate access to resources to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“Amending the Workers Compensation Act to ensure more workers are protected against the harms of workplace trauma was the right thing to do,” said NSGEU President Jason MacLean, “We have taken steps in the right direction, but there is more work to do, as there are many other workers in occupations that are still not included in this legislation.”
Amendments to the Workers Compensation Act were made last fall, ensuring continuing-care assistants, correctional officers, emergency-response dispatchers, firefighters, nurses, paramedics and police officers no longer have the burden of proving that a diagnosis of PTSD is work-related. Now, it has been expanded to include sheriffs.
“This list should be further broadened to include social workers, probation officers and other professions who may have to deal with horrific situations in their day to day work,” said MacLean.
For example, social workers and probation officers are subject to many of the same traumatizing experiences that first responders face in the workplace: they are present in courtrooms during trials that deal with very disturbing details; they are often threatened by clients they are dealing with; and they experience trauma alongside the people that are in their care.
“We owe these public servants the same duty of care that we afford to the people they are trying to protect and serve. We hope government will recognize the importance of the role they play, and ensure these workers are also protected by these new regulations,” MacLean added.
Source : Media Release