Saskatchewan changes law to help workers with psychological injuries, PTSD
Emergency responders in Saskatchewan are welcoming improved workers' compensation coverage for psychological trauma suffered at work. (WAYNE MANTYKA/CTV REGINA)
Cathleen MacPhee spent five years as a paramedic and another five as a 911 operator in Saskatchewan, but is now off work with post-traumatic stress disorder.
MacPhee said there wasn't a specific incident that caused her psychological injury, though there was one call that certainly tipped the scale.
"You kind of think of that glass of water sitting under a dripping tap. How many drops does it take until it overflows? Well, just that one last drop," MacPhee said Tuesday as the government passed changes to The Workers' Compensation Act to cover all forms of psychological injuries.
"And there was one call that was really that one last drop for me, but there was such an accumulation of others over the years that it really led to being at that point."
The change means that it's presumed that injuries such as PTSD are work-related unless an employer rebuts the position.
MacPhee said "it's absolutely huge" that Saskatchewan has made it easier for workers to get help.
Labour Minister Don Morgan said the legislation is unique in Canada because it covers all forms of psychological injury that workers could suffer on the job.
Morgan said fear of the possible reaction from others prevents many people from seeking the help they need.
"Establishing this presumption is an assurance to anyone suffering that they will be believed," he said. "It is my hope that this change to the law will encourage people to feel comfortable and confident enough to come forward and seek support from the WCB."
In the past workers had to provide additional proof that their psychological injury was work-related.
A worker will still need to provide a diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist.
MacPhee said she doesn't get workers compensation because she didn't want to go through the challenge to apply, face the invasive questions about her PTSD or have co-workers questioned.
Changing the legislation is going to make the process so much simpler, she said.
"It's going to take away ... all those hurdles, all those road blocks that these people need to break through," she said at the legislature.
"They're not going to be forced to relive their trauma over and over and over with every different doctor or psychologist or psychiatrist that they're made to see with each workers compensation board person who investigates their case."