New policy broadens coverage for work-related traumatic mental health issues

March 15, 2018 

St. John’s, NL – WorkplaceNL has modernized its mental stress policy (EN-18) to recognize that work-related mental health issues may be caused by exposure to multiple traumatic events. The policy also now includes events that are an inherent part of an occupation, such as first responders witnessing fatalities. 

The policy is used to determine if workers diagnosed with a specific mental health issue, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), qualify for benefits under the workers’ compensation system. The revisions allow the policy to be applied more fairly across all occupations, including first responders. 

“We recognize the mental health impacts that various careers have on individuals in our province and have updated the mental stress policy to reflect this reality,” said the Honourable Sherry Gambin-Walsh, Minister Responsible for WorkplaceNL. “As a government, we must continuously review policies to ensure they are meeting the needs of the people we serve and reflect the current environment.” 

More details on the changes are available in the backgrounder below. 

“I thank everyone who provided information during our policy review,” said Dennis Hogan, WorkplaceNL CEO. “We have evolved our approach to meet the realities of today’s workplaces and awareness of mental health issues. We will continue to work with employers and workers to help create supportive and psychologically healthy workplace environments.” 

With these changes, the policy review announced by WorkplaceNL on November 23, 2017 is now complete. In its duty to administer the province’s workplace injury compensation system, WorkplaceNL has the authority to create and modify policies that are in keeping with the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act. 

A longer-term review of PTSD coverage in workers’ compensation legislation is ongoing. Written submissions will be accepted up to March 30, 2018. 

About WorkplaceNL

Serving approximately 13,000 injured workers and 19,000 employers, WorkplaceNL administers an employer-funded, no-fault insurance system that promotes safe and healthy workplaces, provides return-to-work programs and offers fair compensation to injured workers and their dependents. 

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Media contact:

Carla Riggs, Director of Communications 
709.778.1590 or 


Changes to Policy EN-18 Mental Stress

  • The policy now recognizes that traumatic mental stress disorders can result from exposure to multiple events (cumulative effect); prior to this, only acute reactions to a single event were considered. 
  • The policy is now aligned with that often other Canadian jurisdictions that recognize a cumulative reaction to traumatic events. 
  • Under the previous policy, traumatic events that were part of the inherent risk of an occupation were not covered. This limitation has been removed. 
  • The examples of traumatic events are broader. For instance, “being subjected to death threats” is replaced with “being subjected to threats of physical violence”. 
  • Types of mental health issues have been added, including, but not limited to: acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder or an anxiety or depressive disorder.
  • The policy requires a diagnosis from a regulated health care professional, such as a physician, nurse practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist. 


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