In its “Submission” to the Standing Committee on Social Policy considering Bill 163, Injured Workers’ Consultants supports the amendment to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act adding a presumption that diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in first responders is work-related. It also recommends expanding the list of occupations covered by the presumption to include other workers also similarly impacted by sudden and traumatic events on the job.
Additionally, the Clinic addresses more broadly the under-compensation of work-related mental health disabilities, particularly following Bill 99 changes which removed entitlement for chronic stress – such as that caused by workplace harassment and violence (5 other provinces still provide workers’ compensation for chronic stress).
While the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal has ruled that the limitation of compensation for mental stress to sudden and unexpected traumatic disabilities discriminates on the basis of disability, and is therefore unlawful under the Charter of Rights, the government has yet to address this problem. The submission proposes they can do this by amending section 1 of Bill 163 to repeal s.13(4) of the Act. As detailed, as well as psychological disabilities caused by the work environment, mental health problems can also develop post-injury – that is, as a result of a work-related injury and the workers’ compensation process itself.
The government is also urged to improve access to mental health services for the treatment needed and the diagnosis required for a claim to be allowed.