February 2, 2018
For Immediate Release

Davis Submission Calls for Presumptive Workers’ Compensation for First Responders Diagnosed with PTSD

In a written submission to WorkplaceNL, Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, has called for presumptive workers’ compensation for first responders diagnosed with PTSD in this province just as there is in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta.

The current WorkplaceNL policy requires first responders to prove their PTSD is work-related.

In fact, the current Mental Stress policy does not cover mental stress that develops gradually or progressively as a result of the cumulative impact of traumatic events that the person experiences during the course of the person’s career.

Davis said, “The system ought to recognize that the work of first responders is intrinsically stressful, and a diagnosis of a stress injury such as PTSD in such a person should be ‘presumed’ to be work related. The Workers’ Compensation program ought to include a presumptive clause that relieves a first responder of having to prove that a diagnosed stress injury such as PTSD is work related. The first responder should not be obligated to associate the injury with a particular traumatic event that induced an acute response. The reality of cumulative, gradual-onset stress injuries ought to be recognized and affirmed in our Workers’ Compensation system.”

“Otherwise,” he said, “first responders dealing with debilitating injuries may be financially and mentally incapable of dealing with the injuries their work has caused them to suffer. They may slip into poverty, unable to work, suffer from interpersonal relationship difficulties, inappropriate or excessive use of alcohol or drugs, or they may continue to work, unable to afford to take time away to heal. Failure to properly recognize and treat an OSI such as PTSD can lead to terrible consequences.”

In his submission, Davis outlined the best practices of the other jurisdictions in Canada that provide presumptive coverage of PTSD for first responders.

The submission is attached here.

-30-

Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition (709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca