Recently a Canadian Ombudsman was tasked with investigating claims that employees suffering from mental illness may be denied benefits, according to a recent report. While these claims originated in Ontario, the discrimination investigation could make noticeable major changes for provincial standards in handling mental illness in the workplace in Alberta as well. The complaint was submitted to the Ombudsman on November 10, 2016.
The claim states that the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (‘WSIB’, aka WorkSafe BC across BC, and Worker’s Compensation Board in Alberta) may be denying benefits in select cases of mental illness within certain fields.
While the government has instituted laws that have enhanced protection of the rights of employees who have been faced with considerable mental trauma within the workplace, sometimes leading to post-traumatic stress disorder, employees who experience similar conditions as a result of ongoing harassment have no such rights. Presently, the WSIB does not have to compensate workers for chronic mental stress injuries.
Subsequently, those tormented by these conditions have been forced into litigation against their employers; occasionally a costly and lengthy process, that, unfortunately, does not guarantee their compensation once the case is closed.
The complaint goes on to allege that the government has done nothing to plug this appalling legislative loophole. This comes on the heels of an unprecedented 20% upsurge in independent complaints launched against the WSIB in 2016.
Workplace harassment is notably an issue in Alberta, (as with BC) that litigators have worked hard to mitigate. However, managing the discrimination faced by the victims of harassment is a much taller order.
Fortunately, legal support exists for employees who feel they are not being properly represented or supported in the workplace. Seeking out that support is a critical step in improving workplace conditions across the country.
A Few Interesting Facts on Mental Illness:
- Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
- 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
- Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
- About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).
Please also read the Toronto Star article at the convenient link provided for you below. Thank You.