Ontario could see spike in mental stress claims

Requirement of physical threat when granting benefits eliminated in tribunal decision
By Amanda Silliker
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/26/2012

Employers in Ontario may be seeing more workers’ compensation claims for traumatic mental stress benefits due to a recent decision by the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT).

In the past, traumatic mental stress benefits were only granted when a claimant experienced a traumatic event that presented a real or implied threat to her physical well-being. Decision 483/11 held that a physical threat was not required, said Julie-Anne Cardinal, a lawyer at Heenan Blaikie in Toronto.

“The decision is significant because it effectively widens the number of claims that can be made,” she said. “Before, it had to be a physical event that triggered it, but now what they’re saying is it doesn’t have to be a physical event… so this is widening the circumstances under which an employee might be able to get compensation.”