PSAC pushes for new health and safety standards

Mental health claims are on the rise in the public sector – is the government neglecting its workers?

Mental health conditions, including stress, anxiety and depression, account for nearly half of all disability claims among unionized federal employees and now the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is pushing the government to better protect its workers and adopt national standards for a “psychologically healthy” workplace.

Mental health contributes to the “overall wellness and productivity of the federal public service,” said PSAC president Robyn Benson. If the proposal is accepted it would be the first time federal contracts covered the psychological health of its employees.

PSAC is urging the government to work with unions to identify working conditions and practices that encourage harassment, discrimination, verbal abuse and disrespect – all of which could potentially lead to mental illness.

Job pressures, unreasonable deadlines, work overload, and too little influence over day-to-day work have all been found to cause stress, anxiety and depression.

The government’s mental health claims are among the highest in the country and mental health advocates have long argued that the government should be setting an example to Canada’s employers. If successful, the proposal will set a precedent for the 17 other unions representing public servants and changes could soon be in motion.

Regulation could soon change and employers will be forced to ask themselves the difficult question: “How can I better handle mental health in the workplace?”

In April, industry experts will gather to discuss the hidden costs and unspoken challenges of accommodating disability and mental health in the workplace. The HR Masterclass will address common pitfalls in defining accommodation and leave as well as covering human rights implications and performance expectations.

To find out more about managing disability and mental health in the workplace visit

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