SGEU welcomes changes to help workers with psychological injuries

“It is noteworthy that the proposed changes will recognize a range of psychological illnesses and injuries that we hope will ensure that all those who need help are able to get it." — Bob Bymoen, SGEU President

Regina (28 Oct. 2016) — The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE) welcomes proposed legislative changes that will make it easier for workers suffering from psychological injuries to access benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).

Many front-line workers confront dangerous and violent situations daily because of their job

“We know that many front-line workers suffer from psychological illnesses, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as a result of the stressful, dangerous, and sometimes violent nature of the work they do,” says Bob Bymoen, SGEU President.

“Emergency medical workers, corrections workers, social workers, crisis workers, and many others who confront dangerous and disturbing events in the course of their work lives need and deserve a wide range of supports. The legislative amendment to the Workers’ Compensation Act appears to address some of those concerns,” according to Bymoen.

Legislation will include a wide range of psychological illnesses and injuries

“It is noteworthy that the proposed changes will recognize a range of psychological illnesses and injuries that we hope will ensure that all those who need help are able to get it,” he adds.

“It is also important that the amendment includes corrections workers, because of the high-risk environment they face on a daily basis,” adds Bymoen.

"They will be believed," says Labour Minister

According to Global News, 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," Morgan said in an interview. "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."

PTSD on the rise for workers in corrections

Research has identified significant levels of PTSD in provincial corrections staff.  A 2003 study, PTSD in Corrections Employees in Saskatchewan, uncovered a widespread exposure to trauma. Over 25 per cent of corrections employees reported symptom levels suggesting a probable clinical diagnosis of PTSD. This is a rate much higher than in the general population, and comparable to the rates identified in other groups at high risk of PTSD, such as combat veterans, prisoners of war, disaster survivors, and emergency first responders.

“It is likely that exposure to traumatic events, and the damaging consequences to corrections workers, has increased over the past decade, because facilities have become more violent, dangerous places as a result of issues like overcrowding and gang-related violence,” Bymoen says.

SGEU/NUPGE will work to ensure best options available to those with illnesses and injuries

“All workers who are subjected to trauma as a result of their employment should have ready access to the benefits, treatments, supports and services that will help them to heal,” Bymoen says.

“We will be looking at the proposed amendment in more detail in the days ahead, and will be working to ensure that the best possible options are available to those who suffer from PTSD and other psychological injuries as a result of their employment,” he concludes.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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