The Manitoba government recently introduced legislation that will provide the broadest workers compensation coverage in Canada for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The bill recognizes PTSD as a work-related occupational disease
. It would, like a similar law passed in 2012 in Alberta, start from the presumption that the PTSD suffered by an individual, stemmed from an event or events at work, as long as a medical professional diagnoses it as such.
However, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said his New Democratic Party (NDP) government is going a step further by applying the law to “all workers”
covered by the province’s Workers Compensation Board – nurses, retail-store employees and more – and not just first responders.
Post-traumatic stress discorder is an intense emotional and psychological response to a recent or past traumatic event that is life-threatening, very disturbing, or stressful. It involves exposure to trauma involving death or the threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. It could be an event or situation that one experiences oneself or something that happens to others, including loved ones.
Post-traumatic stress discorder causes intrusive symptoms
such as the following:
re-experience of the traumatic event;
vivid nightmares, or sleeplessness;
inability to concentrate;
flashbacks;change in thoughts and mood related to the traumatic event; and
avoidance of things reminding them of the event (e.g., someone who was hurt in a car crash might avoid driving).
The move by the Manitoba government to include all workers was welcomed by several union leaders, including Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU) president Michelle Gawronsky.
“We represent a broad cross section of workers in different occupations and as such we have learned that psychological injuries can happen to absolutely anyone regardless of what they do for a living,” says Gawronsky.
The amendments would extend coverage and benefits to all workers eligible under the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba who are diagnosed with PTSD by a medical professional. This would ensure timely access to compensation and support services, with the long-term goal of reducing the stigma attached to mental illness.
Closer to home in Ontario, NDP MPP, Cheri DiNovo is pushing for similar legislation in a private members bill—(Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) which passed first reading on July 7, 2014. Like Alberta’s law, DiNovo’s Bill 2 is for first responders only.
Want to read Cheri DiNovo’s private members Bill 2 on PTSD?
WHSC offers a wide range of training programs and resources to help workplace parties understand their legal duties and responsibilities related to workplace hazards such as those that could lead to mental health injuries like critical incident and PTSD.
To learn more: