BC Nurses incuded in workplace trauma compensation

Nurses in BC now have access to more support and compensation for mental health disorders caused by workplace trauma.

In spring of last year, the Workers Compensation Act was amended to include post traumatic stress disorder and mental health disorders caused by workplace trauma for police, firefighters, paramedics, sheriffs and correctional officers.

On Tuesday, the legislation was amended again to include nurses, 911 responders, and other health care aids.

BC Nurses Union president, Christine Sorensen says this is good news, because nurses can be subject to both mental and physical stress in the workplace, leading to mental-disorders.

"For nurses often it can be a cumulative exposure over a period of time.  And they may present with symptoms of mental injury, such as depression and anxiety, leading all the way up to PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder.  It can be from one event, but it can be a cumulation of many many events over their career."

Sorensen adds that it didn't seem right to her that nurses and health care workers were left out when the legislation was amended the first time.

"I think about the opioid crisis that we're facing in this province.  There are many times it is a nurse who is the first person who is in contact.  Nurses who provide palliative care, even in the community or in a residential care facility, long term care facility, repeated exposure to human suffering and death causes nurses to burn out.  They're suffering from stress, mental injury, they're burning out."

She says she's pleased that nurses will be able to get the help they need, because before this change, they had to go through multiple stages of reporting to WorkSafe BC, often having to relive the trauma many times before they were able to get the support.  The change will now presume that mental health disorders were caused by workplace trauma, and nurses will be fast tracked into getting support and compensation.

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