In a recent post, we reviewed the changes made in Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Act which has made it less difficult for workers to qualify for benefits due to mental distress.

PTSD

There is a little known provision of this statute that persons in certain occupations have to their advantage a presumption that they have suffered from a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder when the events which led to this condition occurred “out of and in the course of employment”.

This presumption avoids the need to prove the causal link between the injury and the event. It is rebuttable but nonetheless presents a considerable advantage enabling such workers to obtain WSIA benefits more efficiently.

The Eligible List

A recent amendment allowed additional occupations to qualify for this presumption. The following workers are now eligible for this benefit. The list is apparently designed to reflect “high risk” forms of employment.

  1. Police officer;
  2. Firefighters;
  3. Emergency response persons and ambulance personnel;
  4. Paramedic;
  5. Workers in correction institutions;
  6. Dispatchers of police, firefighters and ambulance providers;
  7. Nurses who provide patient care;
  8. Provincial bailiffs;
  9. Special constables; and
  10. Police force members who provide forensic work.

The worker must present a diagnosis of PTSD from a psychiatrist or a psychologist to qualify for this presumption.

Employers’ Concerns

Employers must be aware of this presumption and the impact it may have on its workforce. This may lead to increased premiums and more frequent employee absences. Companies impacted by these revisions should also insure there is proper support in place to assist injured workers to reduce the impact of such events. This will also lead to additional issues such as accommodation of the injured worker in a return to work plan.

Employees’ Perspective

Employees in such positions must be award of their rights in this context. There is also the implicit obligation of the employer to avoid adverse treatment of any employee suffering from a medical disability, regardless of this presumption, whether or not the disability was work related.

It must be recalled that workers eligible for benefits have no right to sue the employer for such damages sustained due to workplace events.

The law on this subject is staggeringly complicated.

If you have questions about this or a related disability issue, contact the offices of Toronto employment lawyers Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins. We regularly advise workplace parties on a wide range of legal workplace issues. Contact us online or by phone at 416 364 9599 to schedule a consultation.

 


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