Nova Scotia

New bill expands presumptive PTSD compensation to 911 operators and continuing care workers

Workers would not have to prove PTSD diagnosis directly related to job

NS Paramedics Dispute 20130704

If approved, amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act will mean 911 operators, dispatchers and continuing care assistants will be added to the list of professions where claims for PTSD compensation would be processed without the need to establish a clear connection to trauma suffered on the job. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

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The list of workers with post-traumatic stress disorder who might be eligible for compensation — and would not have to prove their disorder was a direct result of their work — has grown.

Proposed amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act would add 911 operators, dispatchers and continuing care assistants to the list of professions where claims for PTSD compensation would be processed without the need to establish a clear connection to trauma suffered on the job.

When the McNeil government introduced a similar bill just before the House was dissolved ahead of last spring's election, the list only included correctional officers, firefighters, nurses, paramedics and police officers.

Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis told reporters before tabling the new proposed law that consultations that have taken place since the original bill was introduced convinced the government to expand the list and make further additions easier.

"We can add future occupations through regulations as opposed to being in a bill," he said.

Law could allow for retroactive application

Paramedic-turned-politician Dave Wilson said he had mixed emotions about what the Liberals are proposing.

"Definitely I'm glad to see the government follow through after introducing this legislation a couple of days before the last election," he said. "A lot of the details are going to be left to regulations, which concerns me that if they're not the right approach or the right approach is not taken that we will have people fall through the cracks."

Labi Kousoulis

Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis says it is the government's intention to include some form of retroactivity for those with a PTSD diagnosis. (CBC)

When the law is enacted, within the year, an emergency worker with a PTSD diagnosis will be presumed to have suffered their injury on the job rather than having to prove it.

According to the Labour Department, since 2013 there have been 82 cases handled by the Workers' Compensation Board. Fifteen of those have been disallowed. 

As currently designed, the law does not allow for retroactivity, but Kousoulis said it is the government's intention to include some form of retroactivity for those with a PTSD diagnosis.

"They would be able to reapply," said Kousoulis. "And the intent is that they would receive their benefits." 

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