How can people with psychological injuries such as PTSD apply for Workers’ Compensation?

If a person has incurred a psychological injury through a traumatic event or series of traumatic events at work, the injured worker should submit a Worker’s Initial Report of Injury (W1) with the WCB as soon as possible.

Workers with psychological injuries such as PTSD should take the following steps:

  • Get medical attention if you need it. You should receive appropriate treatment from a qualified health care professional.
  • Report the incident to your employer immediately.
  • Have your psychologist or psychiatrist report to the WCB. Psychological injuries must be diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist based on the standards established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
  • They should identify any restrictions resulting from your injury and give them to you in writing. You need to let your employer know this information as soon as possible.
  • Complete and submit the Worker’s Initial Report of Injury (W1) as soon as possible.
  • Participate with your employer, care provider and the WCB in setting up a personalized return-to-work plan. The plan usually includes treatment, employment services and suitable work duties.

What are the main points of the changes?

Bill 39 establishes a rebuttable presumption for psychological injuries for workers exposed to traumatic events during the course of their employment. Saskatchewan will be the first jurisdiction to establish a presumption for all forms of psychological injury incurred through work, not just post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to apply this to all workers.

What is a rebuttable presumption?

It means giving the benefit of the doubt to the worker when a claim for compensation has been made. This amendment establishes a rebuttable presumption for workers exposed to traumatic situations in the course of their employment. Under Bill 39 it is presumed that a worker has sustained the injury as a result of their work unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Who could qualify for WCB coverage for a psychological injury?

 All workers who are covered by The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013 are eligible for compensation if they are exposed to a traumatic event as part of or in the course of their employment.

How do people show they are experiencing a psychological injury in order to submit a WCB claim?

They must be diagnosed with a psychological injury by a psychiatrist or a psychologist based on the standards established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

In order to be a work-related injury eligible for compensation, the psychological injury must have occurred due to exposure to cumulative events or a traumatic incident in the course of work-related duties.

For further information, please contact the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Is Bill 39 and the change in legislation only effective for injuries that occur going forward or is it retroactive?

The Bill is retroactive and will cover injuries that occurred prior to the date of the Bill’s Proclamation.

Were people with psychological injuries eligible for WCB coverage before?

 Yes. The existing policy covered the majority of these injury claims. Workers who have been diagnosed with a psychological injury as a result of a traumatic event or cumulative events have been able to apply for WCB benefits based on the psychological injury policy that has been in place since 1992. Up until now, they have been required to provide evidence that the injury is work-related to be eligible for benefits.

This amendment gives the worker the benefit of the doubt, but these claims will be adjudicated with the same process as all claims. The WCB will still need to determine that the predominant cause of the injury was through work or a work-related incident. In addition, the injury must be diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist based on the standards established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

How can someone appeal if they were previously denied coverage?

They do not have to appeal. If an injured worker’s claim for psychological injury was denied previously, they can ask their Saskatchewan WCB CES or Case Manager for reconsideration under the new legislation. The WCB CES and Case Manager will require details of how the injury occurred at work and a diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist based on the standards established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The majority of these eligible claims would have been accepted under the old policy.

How can people appeal if they are denied coverage going forward?

Anyone can appeal their WCB claim. If someone requires assistance in making an appeal, they can contact the Office of the Workers’ Advocate (OWA), which provides free and independent services to injured workers and their families when dealing with the WCB.

Why did you decide to change the Act?

 We have heard from groups such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Saskatoon and the Saskatchewan Professional Firefighters Association about the importance of amending The Workers’ Compensation Act to better meet the needs of those making a claim for psychological injuries.

All too often there is a stigma attached to mental health issues, making it more difficult for those who are experiencing them to come forward and seek help. We hope to ensure those with psychological injuries stemming from their jobs will feel comfortable and confident seeking support, including filing a claim with the WCB.

Is this going to increase workers’ compensation premiums?

Employer premium rates are not expected to increase. It is anticipated that there will be an increase in the number of claims for compensation. It is not expected that there will be a significant increase in cost as the majority of these claims would have been accepted under the existing policy.