Province looking to compensate workers for gradual onset stress

Bill also boosts funeral benefits for workers who have died on the job

Province looking to compensate workers for gradual onset stress

Nova Scotia is enhancing the support it provides to workers under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The provincial legislature tabled on Friday a bill that would allow gradual onset stress to be considered an injury eligible for compensation.

This means workers who experience significant stress over time as a result of their employment will be able to submit a claim to the Workers’ Compensation Board.

“We want to make sure working Nova Scotians are supported and have a healthy workplace to go to each day. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case for some workers,” said Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration. “This legislation will ensure the workplace insurance system is prepared to support workers who have experienced significant workplace stressors over time, with the goal of returning to work healthy.”

Canada is host to some of the highest levels of employee stress in the world, according to a previous report released by Gallup. Worldwide, nearly four in five workers (79%) admitted that they felt burnt out in their careers, according to another study from Express Employment Professionals.

The legislative change would bring Nova Scotia in line with other jurisdictions across Canada and make it the first in the Atlantic provinces, according to the provincial government.

Parameters for workplace stress

The proposed changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act also include parameters for workplace stress that will not be considered, including issues such as performance management, termination of employment, a change in job description and interpersonal conflict. The changes will take effect next September.

The proposed legislation in Nova Scotia also increases funeral benefits for workers who have died on the job from $4,000 to $15,000, and indexes those benefits to the consumer price index. With this, funeral benefits would be brought in line with the rest of the country with no financial implication to the system, according to the government.

“This is a positive step forward to better protect Nova Scotians from psychological injury, and it brings us in line with other jurisdictions coast to coast,” Karen Adams, CEO, Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia. “We look forward to working with the government to help protect both workers and employers from the impacts of this new type of compensable injury in our province.”

Stress at work and heart disease

Psychosocial stressors at work, like job strain and effort-reward imbalance (ERI), can increase coronary heart disease (CHD) risk, according to a report published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a peer-reviewed American Heart Association journal.

The study looked at a sample size of over 3,100 men, and found that exposure to either job strain or ERI was associated with an adjusted 49% CHD risk increase.

Meanwhile, combined exposure to job strain and ERI was associated with an adjusted 103% CHD risk increase.

“Early interventions on these psychosocial stressors at work in men may be effective prevention strategies to reduce CHD burden,” said Mathilde Lavigne-Robichaud, et. al. in the report titled Psychosocial Stressors at Work and Coronary Heart Disease Risk in Men and Women: 18-Year Prospective Cohort Study of Combined Exposures.

Nova Scotia – as well as British Columbia and Alberta – has also made previous enhancements to their respective workers’ compensation legislation. 

Recent articles & video

Feds announce first steps of Action Plan to support Black public employees

CRA reviewing benefits of 200,000 Canadians

Best practices for hiring workers during mass layoffs

What’s the future of HR tech?

Most Read Articles

Court awards terminated fixed-term employee $81,000 for six weeks’ work

CRA reviewing benefits of 200,000 Canadians

Loblaw investing over $2B into 7,500 new jobs, ‘discount stores’