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Government, union create task force to improve mental health in federal workplaces


The government of Canada and the union representing its employees have announced they will work together on their commitment to improving psychological health and safety in the federal workplace.

"Mental health issues have long been important to me," said Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board. "I am prepared to work with all bargaining agents, as we take this step in improving how we deal with mental health challenges in our workplaces, and reducing the stigma that is often attached to mental illness."

The work of the joint task force will include identifying ways to better communicate the issues of mental health challenges in the workplace, reviewing practices from other jurisdictions, and reviewing the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and identifying how its objectives shall best be achieved within the public service.

The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, released in 2013, is an initiative of the government's Mental Health Commission, and the Canadian Standards Association and the Bureau de normalisation du Québec.

Mental health conditions account for about one-half of all disability claims in the federal public service. The most common mental illness is depression which accounts for about one-half of all mental health conditions.

“This is a major victory for our members and for all Canadians who depend on federal public services,” said Robyn Benson, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the union representing mrs than 170,000 government workers. “Through this joint task force, PSAC will ensure that the government lives up to its commitment for concrete action that leads to lasting change on improving mental health in the workplace.”

At present, there are a number of policies and programs in place to support employee health and well-being in the workplace, such as health and safety legislation and regulations, harassment prevention training, values and ethics and an employee assistance program.

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