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, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.
“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,” said Premier Selinger. “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 premier noted this proposed change was inspired by the work of Manitoba nurses, firefighters, first responders and the Manitoba Government Employees Union 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, Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union. “This legislation would make it easier for workers to get the treatment they need more quickly.”
This 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, the premier said.
“Firefighters and first responders face challenges every time they answer a call,” said Alex Forrest, president, United Firefighters of Winnipeg. “Presumptive legislation of this kind protects front-line workers like us and it’s been a pleasure working with the Manitoba government to make this happen.”
“Being on the front line when tragedies happen can leave you with experiences you’ll never forget,” said Sandi Mowat, president, Manitoba Nurses Union. “PTSD is a condition many of our members experience, due to the fact that nurses face cumulative exposure to primary, secondary and vicarious trauma over prolonged periods of time and this legislation would help those having to manage with this diagnoses.”
“PTSD is a real threat to working people. Any improvements in their access to support is welcome news,” said Kevin Rebeck, president, 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.”
Manitoba’s Five-Year Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Preventionlaunched in 2013 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.