Troy Winters | CUPE Health & Safety
On June 30, 2015, the Manitoba government passed Bill 35 which amends the Workers Compensation Act to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a work-related occupational disease. This law follows a similar change in Alberta that provides presumptive Workers Compensation coverage of PTSD for first responders.
CUPE members, led by our paramedics, are lobbying in many provinces (including New Brunswick, PEI, Ontario and BC) for similar changes in legislation. Jason Woodbury, a paramedic and current PEI representative on the National Health and Safety Committee address the severity of the issue. “Too many current and former CUPE members are suffering from PTSD from job related incidents. This has caused many to contemplate, and far too many others to attempt or succeed in taking their own life,” he said. “Seeing a great victory like the one in Manitoba will give us the encouragement to keep fighting for changes to our own compensation systems. We need to help those that have helped us.”
Critical incident stress and PTSD are significant problems for many CUPE members, not just first responders. While CUPE advocates for programs such as peer counselling and paid time off following critical incidents to stop the development of PTSD before it starts, it is encouraging that the Manitoba government will be helping all workers who have suffered mental injuries as result of their work.
Legislative victories for workers such as those in Manitoba and Alberta demonstrate the kind of change that is possible when a government stands with working Canadians. To see more of this kind of change that benefits working Canadians, we need to elect our party, the NDP, in the upcoming federal election.