HALIFAX – Nova Scotia first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder will have an easier time accessing workers’ compensation benefits beginning Oct. 26.
The province has eliminated a requirement that those in emergency response occupations must prove that a PTSD diagnosis is work-related.
The updated Workers’ Compensation Act regulations, first unveiled last year, will clarify who is eligible for presumption and who can diagnose PTSD.
For a claim to be considered under the Act, PTSD must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or registered psychologist.
Eligible workers include police, paid and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, nurses, correctional officers, continuing care assistants, emergency-response dispatchers and sheriffs covered by the Workers’ Compensation Board.
The board says eligible workers with a PTSD diagnosis received on or after Oct. 26, 2013, can refile a claim even if they were denied benefits in the past.
It also said an evidence-based PTSD prevention program would be developed in collaboration with first responders over the next year.
“Making benefits more accessible is an important step in supporting those who have dedicated their lives to making ours safer and better,” Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis said in a news release.
The announcement of the new regulations was welcomed by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union on Wednesday.
“We have taken steps in the right direction, but there is more work to do, as there are many other workers in occupations that are still not included in this legislation,” said union president Jason MacLean.
“This list should be further broadened to include social workers, probation officers and other professions who may have to deal with horrific situations in their day to day work.”