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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The site plan for the Stoked Living development on Hay Rd. (Stoked Living)
Rental housing agreement approved for Hay Rd. project

Stoked Living development guarantees 10 rental units for 12 years

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services. (File)
UPDATE: RCMP say fire at Rivers Edge suspicious

Second fire in less than a week in Revelstoke contained to one unit

Remembrance Day in Revelstoke, Nov. 11, 2019. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke Remembrance Day celebrations different during pandemic

The Legion is asking you to stay home as a limit of 100 people are allowed at the ceremony

A municipal election is likely coming up in January. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
City takes steps to host byelection by end of January

A ministerial order is required to temporarily change the Election Bylaw

Mount Cartier Court residents enjoy some shade. (Submitted)
Mount Cartier Court gets shade sail donation

Various local organizations donated funds for the project

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

An air tanker drops fire retardant on the Christie Mountain wildfire along Skaha Lake in Penticton, B.C. Thursday, August 20, 2020. (Jonathan Hayward - The Canadian Press file)
North Okanagan firefighters thanked for help in Christie Mountain wildfire

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen send thank-you note to Vernon firefighters

In past years, Summerland has launched the festive season with the annual Summerland Festival of Lights. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival has been cancelled. (Summerland Review file photo)
Festival of Lights cancelled in Summerland

Annual November event normally launches start of festive season

The front door was smashed at Simply Delicious aroud 4 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, but nothing was stolen. (Cameron Grant photo)
North Okanagan business owners hit second time in three months

Simply Delicious broken into, but nothing was stolen

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This Photoshopped version of the crosswalks near the entrance to the Salmon Arm Art Gallery on Hudson Avenue show what is proposed to help create safety for and show inclusivity to the LGBTQ2S+ community. (Salmon Arm Arts Centre image)
Tri-rainbow crosswalk and Progress flag requested to help make Salmon Arm safe

Council will consider budget requests to help make city inclusive to LBGTQ2S+ community

Penticton resident Seamus Kirby, 30, was sentenced to 16 months behind bars for fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle this April. (Facebook)
Prolific offender back behind bars

Seamus Kirby, 30, has a long history of crime in the Okanagan

Cameron James is celebrating the recent release of his second single, Voodoo. He is pictured in downtown Kelowna, his hometown. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Kelowna hip-hop artist makes waves on the West Coast

Artist Cameron James and filmmaker Jordan Powers proof talent doesnt stop at west coast

Most Read