On April 17, 2018, the BC Legislature passed its third reading of Bill 9, Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2018. The purpose of the Bill is to provide first responders with easier access to mental health supports.
This bill updates the Workers Compensation Act to allow a less onerous process for workers in deemed “eligible” occupations who are making claims of mental disorder. The eligible occupations include:
- corrections officers;
- emergency medical assistants;
- police officers;
- sheriffs; and
- other occupations as prescribed by regulation.
As a result of Bill 9, workers in these eligible occupations who are exposed to one or more traumatic events over the course of their employment will now have mental disorders presumed to be caused by the nature of the work if the workers are subsequently diagnosed with a mental disorder. This process will result in a change in how the Workers’ Compensation Board decides mental disorder claims, as the previous model required a worker in these eligible occupations to prove that the mental disorder was work-related.
There are limits to Bill 9. For example, the presumption does not apply to all mental disorders. Rather, it will only apply to mental disorders if those disorders may arise from exposure to a traumatic event.