New PTSD Presumptions for Workers in Nova Scotia and PEI

NFBPreparing for changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act

Employers in Nova Scotia and PEI take note: recent amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Acts in both provinces add new provisions that will impact how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims are assessed.

What is changing in Nova Scotia?

In October 2017 the provincial government amended the Nova Scotia Workers’ Compensation Act to provide presumptive benefits to continuing-care assistants, correctional officers, emergency-response dispatchers, firefighters, nurses, paramedics, police officers, and any other persons in occupations prescribed by the regulations who are diagnosed with PTSD.  In other words, where a worker in one of these occupations is diagnosed with PTSD, the PTSD is presumed to be work-related and the worker is entitled to WCB benefits unless proven otherwise.

What is changing on PEI?

The changes on PEI create a similar presumption: where a worker is exposed to a traumatic event in the course of employment and subsequently diagnosed with PTSD, it is presumed that the PTSD is work-related and the worker is entitled to WCB benefits unless proven otherwise.

The major difference between PEI and Nova Scotia is that on PEI this presumption will apply to all workers covered by the PEI Workers Compensation Act.

When will the new PTSD presumptions take effect?Blog addl photo

In Nova Scotia, the new presumption will come into force on October 26, 2018. There is no specific date when the changes will take effect on PEI; although the bill was passed in December 2017, it will not come into force until proclamation by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, which could happen at any time.

What does this mean for the workers’ compensation process?

The impact of these amendments on the workers’ compensation processes in PEI and Nova Scotia remains to be seen. To that end, WCB Nova Scotia is currently holding consultations on how these changes will be implemented in Nova Scotia. More generally, there was a time when workers’ claims for psychological injury were rarely successful, and these amendments signify that our societal – and legal – understanding of mental health and wellness in the workplace is evolving.


Do you have questions about psychological injury in the workplace or the workers’ compensation process in Atlantic Canada? 

Nancy Barteaux, Q.C. is the Managing Partner of Barteaux Durnford. She acts for employers in all manner of employment-related issues, including complex disputes and collective bargaining negotiations. As a senior labour and employment lawyer with a proven track record of success, she is recognized in Nova Scotia and across Canada. 

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