A photo of E-Comm call-taker Christie Duncan answering emergency calls (E-Comm 911)

Nurses, publicly funded health-care assistants, and 911 emergency dispatchers now have greater access to financial support for mental healthcare, after amendments made to the Mental Disorder Presumption Regulation.

Now, workers in these fields can more easily claim workers’ compensation for mental illnesses, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of work-related trauma.

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“These changes to the Mental Disorder Presumption Regulation are about fairness and support for workers who experience higher-than-average mental harm due to the jobs they do on behalf of British Columbians,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour.

In Spring 2018, the province added the same coverage to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, sheriffs, and correctional officers.

The expanded health coverage came after a review of each position’s occupational demands, potential for exposure to traumatic situations, rate of workers’ compensation claims for mental illness, and financial impact.

“I am very pleased to hear that the government is recognizing the mental-health needs of nurses,” said Christine Sorensen, president of the BC Nurses’ Union.

“The BCNU has spent over two years highlighting how prevalent violence and PTSD are within the nursing profession. Nurses are often exposed to workplace trauma, and we are hopeful this announcement will provide both resources and support for all nurses who are suffering.”

“Health-care assistants provide frontline care in long-term care homes, hospitals, home care and other settings,” said Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union.

“Care aides frequently experience violence in the workplace; witness and respond to violence, suicides and unexpected deaths; and often face threats and intimidation. Today’s announcement acknowledges their valuable contributions to care, and especially of the toll that trauma experienced on-the-job can have on them.”