A proposed new workers’ compensation policy would allow some psychological injury claims to be rejected too easily, according to the workers’ advocate.
“In reviewing the proposed policy, I see some major concerns with regard to the acceptance of claims,” Mike Travill said on Monday.
The proposed policy, currently under review, would nix a worker’s option to file compensation claims for “mental stress” from harassment, undergoing a performance evaluation or being disciplined or fired, except under exceptional circumstances.
Although there is a clause for “exceptional circumstances,” it’s not enough, said Travill.
“Having a disclaimer at the bottom saying some cases should be based on their own merit is arguing out of both sides of their mouth.”
Each individual case should be decided on its own merits without conditions, said Travill.
The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Act states that disabilities caused on the job are covered, said Travill.
And for the proposed policy to state that certain types of injuries caused on the job would not be covered contravenes the legislation.
It’s “discrimination” based on the type of the injury, he said.
The proposed three-page policy under review defines the process of categorizing and compensating psychological injuries.
In it, injuries must meet three criteria before compensation would be considered.
First, the injury must be caused by the job.
Second, a medical professional — such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist — not a general practitioner, must clinically diagnose the injury.
And third, the diagnosis must be a disorder found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Volume IV, an American medical handbook.
A contentious, four-year-old workers’ compensation claim spurred the new policy’s development.
Charolette O’Donnell filed the claim two days after being suspended from her workers’ compensation job, in 2002.
O’Donnell claimed her suspension, and subsequent firing, left her psychologically injured — with difficulty eating, sleeping and concentrating.
Her claim was originally approved, then denied.
Now Yukon’s Supreme Court has thrown the case back to the workers’ compensation appeal tribunal for reconsideration.
Currently Yukon’s Workers’ Compensation Act guides how psychological injury claims are handled.
March 5 is the deadline to comment on the Yukon’s new policy.
The proposal is available online at www.wcb.yk.ca.