Posted on Dec 30, 2020


EDMONTON – Earlier this month the UCP Government passed Bill 47, which removed presumptive Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) coverage for most workers in Alberta.  That change, and many other changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers Compensation Act, take effect on New Year’s Day.


“Today, a worker who has been diagnosed with a psychological injury after exposure to a traumatic event at work is presumptively covered, so they can begin receiving treatment as soon as possible. Starting Friday, workers in the same situation will have to prove their injury was work related, before the WCB will cover their treatment.” said NDP Critic for Labour, Christina Gray. “We know fewer injured workers will receive the help they need because the UCP bragged about the money this change would save in their Bill 47 fact sheets. Saving money by denying help to injured workers is morally wrong and the sign of a government with deeply flawed priorities.


“We’re battling a global pandemic and our frontline health care workers, our social workers, and our long-term care workers are all working in conditions they have never had to deal with before. As of Friday, Bill 47 will literally make it harder for the healthcare heroes carrying our province through this pandemic to get the supports they may need. Supports they unquestionably deserve. At a time when society is placing a greater emphasis on supporting mental health, the UCP government has passed regressive legislation that tries to save money by denying injured workers treatment.”


Jamie Knight is a Registered Social Worker, Clinical Traumatologist, and owner of Good Life Collective, a private practice that focuses on counselling and consulting in the areas of trauma and crisis response. Her concern for workers with PTSD is that a WCB process that forces them to repeatedly relive their trauma can actually amplify the damage. Knight experienced this problem herself, while seeking PTSD coverage when she previously worked as a Primary Care Paramedic.


“Now as a Social Worker, I’m proud of the work that has been previously done to support presumptive coverage for psychological injuries in workers in Alberta, particularly our first responders.” said Knight.  “But, as of January 1, that disappears for so many other incredibly vital workers. Our healthcare workers, currently experiencing the unfolding moral injuries of a lifetime, will have to fight to justify their injured minds. Our tradesmen, who witness a critical accident at work, and try to save the life of a coworker will have to retell their story to someone not familiar with the tenderness needed to properly hold those stories. And once again, I myself, will be without the coverage that would have saved a part of me previously.”


Presumptive PTSD coverage remains intact for firefighters, police officers, peace officers, corrections officers, and emergency dispatchers. However, a recent study done at the University of Calgary indicates that 10-14% of police, firefighters and paramedics experience PTSD at work, but upwards of 17 per cent of nurses and 33 per cent of homeless shelter workers will. Nurses, homeless shelter workers and many other frontline positions had their presumptive PTSD coverage removed with the passing of the bill.