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Should there be Workers Compensation coverage for work related stress leading to a mental illness

April 19, we debated a Private Member's Resolution which read:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba urge the provincial government to expand coverage for workers comp for workers experiencing a stress-induced mental disorder borne out of a worker's employment, and to publish the report of the committee's review online.
I spoke on this resolution and my comments, from Hansard, are below:

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I thank the member for Flin Flon (Mr. Lindsey) for bringing this forward.
      This is a serious issue, and it is, I believe, important for us to be able to treat mental and brain health issues as well as physical issues in a serious and, at the same time, reasonable way under the workers compensation. I think that this is complicated enough that we need to have, I would suggest, something like a paper which talks about  examples, which provides us a better definition or illustration of what is included in stress.  We need, if we're going to approach this, to have some consistency among physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists. Under current circumstances some insurance plans which cover mental health, for example, will require a diagnosis from a psychiatrist.
      We need to make sure that we are on the right track in terms of how we approach this so that it
can be treated fairly and consistently throughout the province, and I think that that's going to be more difficult than with a physical injury where you have a broken bone or something like that. And we're breaking new ground, I think, in this respect so we must tread well and carefully.

      We need to have a better understanding of how you decide when stress is work related or not, or whether there's an additive component in terms of work based on the individual. I think we need to understand that each person is different and that we need to be able to recognize [this]–I give you an example. I had working for me an individual with a significant mental health issue. He was more susceptible to stress, and so we had an arrangement in the office that, you know, if we had a stressful circumstance, which we do for time to time, that, we'd make sure that things were covered and that he wasn't put in a position where stress [which] might be acceptable for somebody else would be very problematic for him.
      So I think that that is also an important issue. I think we need to recognize that there is good stress as well as bad stress, right, that putting a deadline on getting something done is not, you know, necessarily harmful stress, as it were, but needs to be done in a way that is reasonable for the work environment.
      And we need to be able to make sure that, if we're moving forward on this, that we get it right, because the last thing we want is to move forward on something which is going to be very problematic.
      I thank the minister for her comments, as well, in recognizing the seriousness of bullying and harassment in the workplace, and I think that there is an opportunity here to build on what is here.
      I'm not sure that we're all the way here in terms of being able to implement this, but I think that with a lot more work that we could be.
      So I thank the member for bringing this forward.


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