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Manitoba government to speed up PTSD help for all workers

The Manitoba government introduced legislation Monday that it says will provide the broadest workers compensation coverage in Canada for post-traumatic stress.

June 9, 2015  By Steve Lambert The Canadian Press

The bill – like an existing law in Alberta and changes being eyed in
some other provinces – would recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as
a work-related occupational disease for first responders such as police
officers and firefighters.

It would also, like the Alberta law,
start from the presumption that the PTSD stemmed from an event or events
at work, as long as a medical professional diagnoses it as such.

Premier Greg Selinger said his NDP government is going a step further
by applying the law to all workers covered by the province’s Workers
Compensation Board – nurses, retail store employees and more – and not
just first responders.

"It makes sense to deal with (PTSD)
regardless of what occupation you have, what job you have. If you’re
experiencing the issue, it impairs your ability to do your job,"
Selinger said.


The move was welcomed by several union leaders
Monday. Sandi Mowat, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said many
of her 12,000 members have faced uphill battles in getting help.

"Nurses are often misdiagnosed with occupational burnout or compassion," she said.

any PTSD presumed to be work-related should mean faster access to
treatment and compensation. The move is, in essence, a reverse of onus.

longer will workers be pressed to prove a direct link between their
condition and events on the job, said Alex Forrest, president of the
province’s largest firefighters union. Instead, a doctor’s diagnosis
that would include a reference to a workplace event would suffice.

Workers Compensation Board said it does not expect the change to drive
up rates paid by employers. The board does not expect a big surge in
claims and has healthy reserve funds, spokesman Warren Preece said.

Selinger said faster treatment has a financial upside.

could make the argument that more rapid access to better-quality
treatment actually will be preventative of further problems later on."

Canadian Federation of Independent Business is not buying that
argument. The group’s Manitoba director, Elliott Sims, said his group
recognizes PTSD should be covered, but fears that automatically
presuming it stems from work could spark a sharp rise in claims and the
rates employers pay.

"I have not seen any costing numbers done on this proposed change. The policy is coming before the due diligence has been done."

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