Nova Scotia improves access to PTSD benefits

Diagnosis now presumed to be caused by job for first responders

Nova Scotia improves access to PTSD benefits
Nurses among occupations eligible for PTSD presumption under changes to Nova Scotia's Workers' Compensation Act. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

As of Oct. 26, it will be easier for front-line and emergency response workers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to access workers’ compensation benefits.
Thanks to changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act, those in front line and emergency response occupations no longer have to prove that a diagnosis of PTSD is work-related — it will not be presumed to be so.

“We all value the work so many Nova Scotians do to keep this province safe, and to care for us when we need it most. Sometimes they need help, too,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis. “Making benefits more accessible is an important step in supporting those who have dedicated their lives to making ours safer and better.”

The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia has established a dedicated team of case workers to better meet the needs of those with psychological workplace injuries, including PTSD. 

Over the next year, WCB will also develop an evidence-based PTSD prevention program in collaboration with first responders.

“By the very nature of their jobs, some workers are exposed to traumatic and violent events, which can have a lasting impact on both their physical and mental health,” said Stuart MacLean, CEO of WCB Nova Scotia. “These changes will help front-line and emergency response workers get the care and support they need quicker and more easily.”

The updated regulations clarify who is eligible for presumption and who can diagnose PTSD. Eligible workers are police, paid and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, nurses, correctional officers (including youth workers in a correctional facility), continuing care assistants, emergency-response dispatchers and sheriffs covered by the board.

“Front-line and emergency responders are the very people you need by your side in a time of crisis, and I’m pleased to see government take this important step on their behalf,” said Jason MacLean, president, Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union. “I look forward to working with government to ensure more workers have access to this new benefit.”

Occupational stress due to traumatic events, including PTSD, has always been covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, for all workers. This will continue. For the purposes of a claim, PTSD must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or registered psychologist.