Thursday, NDP Health Critic Danielle Chartier tabled legislation to make the Workers' Compensation Act more inclusive and to ensure that all Saskatchewan workers affected with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) receive the supports they need.
“PTSD has a deep and lasting effect on workers, families, and businesses,” Chartier said. “Saskatchewan must join other provinces who have already taken this important step to care for workers who suffer with PTSD. It’s long past time for meaningful change in the approach to PTSD in our province.”
Jennifer Chouinard, a trauma and crisis social worker and founder of Saskatchewan PTSD Support Initiative, said these changes will support the well-being of all workers and workplaces.
“Making PTSD presumptive under Workers’ Compensation is important because it expedites treatment and reduces social stigma. It will provide more timely help to more workers and will be a big move forward for recognizing mental health in the workplace,” said Chouinard.
If passed, Chartier’s bill would recognise that all workers could face a traumatic event or a series of traumatic events that could cause PTSD and, if the traumatic event or events occur at work, a subsequent diagnosis of PTSD should be presumed to be an occupational injury. As is the case in several other provinces that have included PTSD under their workers' compensation legislation, affected workers would benefit from a more straightforward claims adjudication process.
“When thinking about an armed robbery at a convenience store where a worker was hurt or witnessed a customer getting hurt, he or she may suffer from PTSD, and so too, could the paramedics at the scene,” said Paul Hills, an advanced care paramedic and the president of the Saskatoon Paramedics Association. “However, if this legislation only included first responders, the paramedic wouldn’t have to prove his or her PTSD was born of the incident, whereas the store employee would. That’s not a fair and balanced approach to treating a very serious condition.”