All workers eligible for presumptive PTSD coverage January 1

December 22, 2015

The MFL commends the provincial government on today’s announcement that presumptive PTSD coverage will take effect for all workers starting on new year’s day:

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Coverage Accessible to All Workers under Groundbreaking Changes to Workers Compensation Act: Premier Selinger

Changes to the Workers Compensation Act recognizing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a work-related occupational disease will come into effect Jan. 1, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“PTSD causes tremendous pain and suffering to those affected by it. This first-in-Canada legislation will offer all workers who have experienced traumatic events in the workplace the support they need to heal and get back to work,” said Premier Selinger. “Starting Jan. 1, when a worker who has experienced a traumatic event on the job is diagnosed with PTSD, the Workers Compensation Board will presume his or her condition was caused by the job, making it much easier to access supports, treatment and compensation.”

The premier noted this new law was inspired by the work of Manitoba nurses, firefighters, first responders and the Manitoba Government Employees Union, who led the charge with public campaigns, to recognize the effects workplace trauma can have on their members.

“This legislation doesn’t recognize the uniform we wear to work, but instead emphasizes uniformity in that it applies to all workers,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president, Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union. “That’s what makes this legislation special and important; regardless of what we do or where we work, when things happen on the job that affect our mental health, there will be tools and supports in place quickly that help us get better.”

This new bill will extend coverage and benefits to all workers eligible under the Workers Compensation Board who are diagnosed with PTSD by a medical professional, the premier said. This will ensure timely access to compensation and support services, with the long-term goal of reducing the stigma attached to mental illness, he added.

“Manitoba firefighters thank the provincial government for this important piece of legislation, which has already helped many firefighters and paramedics in treatment and support,” said Alex Forrest, president, United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg. “This legislation has already become influential across Canada within the fire/paramedic community.”

“This legislation is an important recognition of the fact that not all debilitating injuries are apparent or easy to document, and will help victims of PTSD get the treatment they need as soon as possible,” said Kevin Rebeck, president, Manitoba Federation of Labour. “We can do no less for injured workers.”
“This legislation is a crucial first step in dealing with PTSD because it recognizes the cumulative impact of trauma on nurses,” said Sandi Mowat, president, Manitoba Nurses Union.

Manitoba’s Five-Year Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention launched in 2013 and includes mental health as one of its 10 action areas. The plan commits Manitoba to improving supports, resources and coverage for workers who routinely face traumatic events as part of their work in an effort to reduce work-related PTSD.