Employment Law – Bill 67
PTSD as an Occupational Disease
Bill 67, an act proposed to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 has been a in the news frequently with its reference to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PSTD]. Any anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a traumatic event or experience with symptoms that may include flashbacks, nightmares and intense feelings of fear or horror is defined as PSTD.
This means that if Bill 67 does get approved, it may become more troublesome for Ontario’s emergency management services to manage mental illness that would flow from the compensation claims of employees. And when police, fire fighters and paramedics suffer PTSD, it will be considered as an occupational disease that was contracted due to the employment as an emergency response worker.
Everyone agrees that Paramedics, as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, bring a lot of dedication and commitment to their jobs. People are calling for more stringent legislation to help these first responders cope with an often traumatic job. Under Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s Traumatic Mental Stress or Psychotraumatic Disability regulations, employees are entitled to receive compensation benefits for work-related PTSD or other mental illnesses.
Some recent developments in the recognition and treatment of PSTD kind of disorders have led to changes in compensation laws pertaining to workers in Ontario. Though workers can be compensated for accidental personal injuries or occupational illnesses during the course of their employment, PSTD is not considered an accidental personal injury and hence be considered as an occupational disease.
That’s why if these first responders end up developing PTSD, they should not have to go through the trauma again by having to prove they came down with PTSD in the line of duty. In the coming days and months, Bill 67 and its potential impact on businesses will have a lot of legislative significance. As of today, Bill 67 is currently being considered by the Standing Committee on General Government and no timetable has been released for community input on the Bill to date.
If you or any first responders are suffering from PSTD and wish to learn more about Bill 67, please contact us.