Question Period Highlight: PTSD

October 28, 2014

Your NDP MLAs are hard at work in the legislature this fall, holding the government to account during Question Period on a number of key issues, including job loses since Stephen McNeil became Premier, and how the Liberals’ health board amalgamation distraction is causing their government to take their eye off what really matters – front line care. Here is a question NDP Health Critic Dave Wilson asked Liberal Labour Minister about expanding Workers’ Compensation for PTSD coverage for emergency responders.

DAVID WILSON : My question today is for the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. Mr. Speaker, the NSGEU represents emergency responders, including police officers, social workers, correctional workers, firefighters, and nurses. These are all people you need by your side in time of crisis. Today the NSGEU issued a press release, which I will table, calling on the government to ensure all emergency response workers receive the help they need from Workers’ Compensation when they develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

I’d like to ask the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education through you, when will emergency responders see that change?

KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. In fact, the Workers’ Compensation Board recently changed their policy on workplace stress and has improved their coverage at this time. Any time we make any change to our policies at the Workers’ Compensation Board, it does have ramifications and so any decision to proceed with those would have to be made after due consultation. Thank you.

DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, there are those emergency responders who aren’t covered because of the policy currently with WCB. In the last seven months, 24 first responders have committed suicide across Canada and we cannot wait any longer. I would like to ask the minister, when will the Minister of Labour provide automatic coverage through Workers’ Compensation for emergency responders who have been diagnosed with PTSD due to accumulative exposure to traumatic events?

REGAN: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite would know, the Workers’ Compensation Board has recently changed its procedures around this particular issue. There is expanded coverage. Any time we go to change our coverage, it has a financial impact on the Workers’ Compensation Board’s bottom line. As we know, there is a huge unfunded liability.