The Manitoba government is introducing amendments to the Workers Compensation Act that would recognize post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a work-related occupational disease, according to Premier Greg Selinger.
"This legislation would be unique in Canada and would truly support workers who experience a traumatic event or events in the workplace that lead to PTSD," he said. "Under this new law, the Workers Compensation Board would presume their condition was caused by the job, making it much easier to access supports, treatment and compensation."
The proposed change was inspired by the work of Manitoba nurses, firefighters, first responders and the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU) who led the charge with public campaigns, recognizing the affects workplace trauma can have on their members.
"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," said Michelle Gawronsky, president of MGEU. "This legislation would make it easier for workers to get the treatment they need more quickly."
The new bill would extend coverage and benefits to all workers eligible under WCB 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, said the premier.
"PTSD is a real threat to working people. Any improvements in their access to support is welcome news," said Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour. "It comes as no surprise to me that Manitoba is the first jurisdiction to put this level of protection into legislation."