Union calls for nurses to be included in workers mental health legislation

Acting president Christine Sorensen said omitting nurses discriminates against front-line workers

The BC Nurses’ Union is urging the province to include nurses in its new proposed legislation on mental health presumption, citing concerns those in the sector who see their fair share of trauma will still face barriers when seeking support and compensation for PTSD and other injuries.

On Wednesday, the province announced it would be introducing amendments to the Workers Compensation Act that, upon approval, would add post-traumatic stress disorder – or PTSD – and other mental injuries to a list of “presumptive conditions” no longer requiring workers to prove their disease or disorder is work-related.

READ MORE: B.C. first responders to get better mental health support

READ MORE: B.C. paramedics’ effort to be named essential service fails

Union acting president Christine Sorensen said in a statement Thursday that while the union welcomes the support from B.C. politicians for first responders, nurses also face similar routine exposure to trauma in the course of their jobs.

“This announcement discriminates against those point-of-care nurses who are psychologically impacted from providing care in traumatic situations taking place in acute, residential and community-based settings,” she said, adding that the union provided data to the ministry but were still left out.

She said omitting nurses from this week’s announcement impacts the well-being of their families, their quality of life and the sustainability of the health care system.

According to the union, 76 nurses registered claims for post-traumatic stress disorder – or PTSD – in 2016. WorkSafe BC data suggested that in that same year, nurses accounted for 12 per cent of all mental disorder claims and 10 per cent of PTSD claims.

“This is a set-back for nurses who give and give until they cannot give anymore,” Sorenson said.

“The mental health needs of nurses must be as high a priority for the government as any other front-line professional providing care to British Columbians.”

Sorensen called on Labour Minister Harry Bains to amend the legislation to include nurses to the list of professions, which currently includes firefighters, police officers, paramedics, sheriffs and correctional officers.

Bains was in the legislative chamber Thursday afternoon, and unavailable to comment.

In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, labour ministry spokesperson Julianne McCaffrey said Bains has spoken with representatives at BCNU, and is committed to ensuring that all workers who experience mental trauma at work receive the care and supports that they need in the most timely way possible.

“That is why we drafted the legislation in a way that allows for other categories of workers to be added,” she said.

Until the proposed legislation is passed, any worker in B.C. can make a claim if their mental trauma is directly linked to their job, but do have to prove it is work related.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Caribou debate in Revelstoke makes international headlines

How much are we expected to sacrifice to save a dying species?

Dawn Low Interim CAO for Revelstoke for six months

She will be in the position until it is filled, it is not currently advertised

LETTER: Revelstoke Paddlesport Association opposed to gravel pit near Jordan River

City council has also expressed opposition to the gravel pit

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Firefighters have doused a Peachland house fire

Fire crews are still on scene investigating the cause of the BBQ which made its way to the home

False report of dead body leads police to sex dolls at Manning Park

Princeton RCMP breathed a sigh of relief, momentarily, when they discovered a… Continue reading

Ironman returns to Okanagan after seven-year absence

Subaru Ironman Canada is coming back to Penticton in 2020

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Special memorial service to say goodbye to murdered Kelowna teen

A memorial service and celebratio of life was held Tuesday for murdered teen Elijah-Iain Beauregard

Okanagan College campus flies Syilx flag

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag was raised at a ceremony at Vernon campus on July 16

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Most Read