Changes to PTSD workplace rules needed, parties say

Both of the territory’s opposition parties are promising a version of legislation they say would help people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Both of the territory’s opposition parties are promising a version of legislation they say would help people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Yukon Liberals say they will bring forward presumptive legislation for the Yukon’s first responders. Meanwhile, the NDP are promising similar legislation that includes all workers covered by the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Presumptive legislation means that after getting an official PTSD diagnosis, workers are not required to prove their injury is work-related in order to be covered by the territory’s workers’ compensation rules.

“Research indicates that presumptive legislation allows for faster claim adjudication which means faster access to wage-loss benefits, healthcare and return-to-work services,” said Nils Clarke, the Liberal candidate for Riverdale North.

The Liberal law would cover first responders, Clarke said. Defining which specific jobs would be included in the legislation would happen after the Liberals form government, he said.

In 2015 the Yukon NDP put forward a private member’s bill that would have created presumptive legislation for firefighters, paramedics and emergency dispatchers with PTSD. That bill did not make it to a vote.

NDP MLA Lois Moorcroft said the party heard from people, outside of those covered in the original proposed bill, who also struggle with PTSD as a result of their jobs.

“Frontline health care workers and people delivering mental health support or corrections officers would benefit from being included in the legislation,” she said.

Presumptive legislation would “transition from the onus being on the worker to prove that it is work-related to the onus being on the employer to prove that it is not.”

Moorcroft said she didn’t know if the party had done an analysis of how much a change like that would cost.

“Anytime that someone files a claim to the workers’ compensation board there are systems in place to ensure that they’re legitimate. So there would still be systems in place.”

The president of the Association of Yukon Fire Chiefs says presumptive legislation is necessary.

Last year Jim Regimbal told the News he didn’t think the territory needed the new law. But, after more research, he’s changed his position and is now in favour of the new rules.

First responders — including people like corrections officers, doctors and nurses — see more on a daily basis than the average person, he said. Once they are officially diagnosed with PTSD, “that should just be it. Your claim should be approved and that’s not happening,” he said.

Regimbal said he’s heard from people who waited months to get their claims approved.

It’s not that the compensation board wants less than the best for people “but there’s nothing in place,” he said.

Presumptive legislation for Canadian first responders is a relatively new idea. Ontario and Manitoba instituted a version of the law this year.

The Ontario law applies to police, firefighters, paramedics, some correctional workers, emergency dispatchers and emergency response teams.

Manitoba’s coverage applies to all workers covered by workers’ compensation in Manitoba.

The Yukon Party doesn’t believe territorial legislation is the way to go right now, according to campaign chair Currie Dixon.

Dixon said the party will be watching how the laws are implemented elsewhere in Canada.

“In the meantime, our focus needs to be on prevention and expanding the services we currently provide, improving them and ensuring that stress injuries are dealt with in a meaningful way.”

Dixon said he’s concerned about how presumptive legislation for first responders would work.

For other presumptive legislation, like the law that assumes firefighters acquired any lung problems on the job, new firefighters get a medical screening before they start work, Dixon said.

Doctors sign off that their lungs are healthy.

“It’s not something that I think is unsolvable, but it’s a legitimate concern that hasn’t been answered by any of these other jurisdictions, is how do you set a baseline standard for mental health?”

Dixon said the Yukon Party will continue to focus on prevention.

“We need to prevent stress injuries from happening and deal with them as they happen so they don’t get worse.”

Right now, if emergency personnel deal with a particularly difficult call, they go through a multi-level process that includes talking about what happened, Dixon said. Outside facilitators can also be brought in to talk to the group and counselling is available.

Dixon said the Yukon Party will have more announcements on the topic later in the campaign. He was not willing to talk about them Tuesday.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Developer asks for zoning change

Would reduce the number of required parking spaces

The Liard First Nation is preparing to enter negotiations for self-governance with the territorial and federal governments. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
Liard First Nation preparing to enter self-governance negotiations with Yukon, federal governments

Chief Stephen Charlie seeking an agreement separate from “dead end” UFA

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Jan. 20, 2021

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Most Read