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Amendments to Mental Disorder Presumption Regulation

B.C.’s workers’ compensation system provides any worker with compensation and supports for illnesses, injuries or mental health disorders caused by their work. Funding for compensation comes from insurance premiums paid by employers.

For a claim to be accepted, medical, scientific or other evidence must be provided to establish that the condition arose from their employment, in addition to a diagnosis by a medical professional.

A “presumption” under the Workers Compensation Act provides that if a worker has been employed in specific occupations and develops a disease or disorder that is recognized as being associated with that occupation, then the condition is presumed to have been due to the nature of their work, unless the contrary is proved. With a presumptive condition, there is no longer a need to prove that a claimant’s disease or disorder is work-related once a formal diagnosis has been made.

The act and regulations outline specific cancers and heart injury and diseases that impact firefighter groups, in respect to presumptions. Amendments to the act in May 2018 added mental-health disorders to the list of presumptions for federal and municipal firefighters, as well as police, paramedics, sheriffs and correctional officers.

Further amendments introduced on April 11, 2019, will extend the cancer, heart disease and mental-health disorder presumptions to wildfire fighters, fire investigators and firefighters working for First Nations and Indigenous organizations.

The announcement involves an amendment to the Mental Disorder Presumption Regulation to extend the mental health disorder presumption to the following occupations:

  • Emergency dispatchers whose duties include the dispatch of firefighters, police officers and ambulance services, as well as those who receive emergency (911) calls from the public. Most dispatchers are employed by either the BC Emergency Health Services or Emergency Communications for British Columbia Incorporated.
  • All nurses regulated by the B.C. College of Nursing Professionals, including licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses.
  • Health-care assistants (care aides) registered with the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry and employed in a publicly funded organization or setting.