December 10th, 2020

NDP bill would provide PTSD coverage for frontline child protection workers

HALIFAX -- The NDP Caucus is calling on the Liberal government to expand presumptive coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) under Workers’ Compensation to include frontline child protection workers in Nova Scotia. Had the legislature sat this fall, the NDP would have tabled legislation to make this change.

“We have hundreds of frontline workers who are struggling with mental health issues because of their work. We should be supporting them wherever we can,” said NDP Labour spokesperson Kendra Coombes. “Social workers and other child protection workers are engaging with people on some of their worst days. Just as we’ve acknowledged the toll that takes on other first responders, we should make sure child protection staff have access to coverage too.”

According to statistics from 2017, social workers in child protection faced a record level of burnout. Short-term illness hours rose from 16,513 in the fiscal year 2013-14 to 26,105 in 2016-17, an increase of nearly 10,000 hours.

“We know that with the changes to the Children and Family Services Act, with no new resources for staff, have led to more stress and burnout for frontline workers,” said Alec Stratford, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers. “These conditions are leading to serious recruitment and retention issues for Community Services child protection workers and we need to provide more support to those who are dealing with trauma on a daily basis.”

The NDP bill would add child protection workers to the Workers’ Compensation Act under the presumptive PTSD coverage granted to first responders and other workers in 2017.