PTSD Legislation is a Benefit to All
Jun 29, 2015
In a column published by the Winnipeg Free Press, Loren Remillard, executive vice-president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, provided a doomsday perspective on the introduction of Bill 35, which provides presumptive coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to all WCB-covered workers.
In that column, Mr. Remillard says Bill 35 “which should have stopped at first responders, opens a Pandora’s box of scenarios” as he goes on to trivialize the importance of this significant legislation by providing a hypothetical example of an office worker filing a PTSD claim upon receiving a poor work performance review.
Is that a possible scenario? I’m not sure. But I can tell you that a home care attendant suffering from PTSD after finding a client who has passed away in their home is a real scenario. I can tell you that the convenience store clerk who is robbed at gunpoint and assaulted is a real scenario causing PTSD, as well as the warehouse worker who is seriously injured by a falling pallet, or the highways worker who has seen co-worker killed by a speeding motorist in a construction zone.
These workers are not “first responders,” and no, they may not be exposed to the same frequency of traumatic situations on a daily basis at work, but why in Mr. Remillard’s eyes are they not as entitled to presumptive post-traumatic coverage as any other worker?
As a union, we are unfortunately all too familiar with the hazards of the workplace. Try as we all do to prevent workplace injuries, tragic and traumatic events can happen and that can leave invisible wounds that are often harder to heal than the visible ones. We’re better at addressing those physical injuries than we have been at addressing the psychological ones.
Mr. Remillard is also concerned about how Bill 35 will impact business owners – what it will mean to their bottom line. But what about the costs (financially, physically and psychologically) to workers and employers under the current model?
On these types of claims, the long and arduous appeal process has significant costs to workers. They experience barriers to accessing treatment. That worsens the illness and leads to more complex and difficult treatment, which then costs them more financially.
treatment, time away from work also goes up and this costs everyone, including
the employer. For people who can’t get back to work right away, the result
could be a loss in benefits, seniority, pension contributions, and even their
These amendments to the Workers Compensation Act represent a step forward in addressing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in a more appropriate way that is fair, reasonable, and consistent.
This legislation means PTSD claims can be adjudicated more efficiently by the WCB, workers will be able to access the necessary treatment and supports so that they can return to health and return to work. This is good for everyone, workers and employers alike.
That’s why the inclusion of
all workers under this model for PTSD claims doesn’t just make sense, it’s the
right thing to do.I know Mr. Remillard’s
primary concerns are for his members’ immediate concerns, but there is no
evidence that Bill 35 will cost businesses more. Even if it does, there comes a
time when we have to place people over profits.
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