Mental Stress and WSIB Benefits
WSIB coverage may be getting even more expensive, as the Tribunal overseeing Ontario’s workers’ compensation system is now accepting legitimate claims for mental stress in the course of employment. In a controversial decision, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal held the statutory exclusion of benefits for non-traumatic workplace stress to be unconstitutional, stating that it violated the guarantee of equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Tribunal held the distinction between physical and mental disabilities was arbitrary and unnecessary.
Practically, this decision will likely result in an influx in claims for workplace stress and even some claims that were previously rejected being reconsidered by the WSIB. Correspondingly, companies ought to refocus their attention on improving worker morale and discouraging burnout, in order to reduce the likelihood of such claims and – as a positive side-effect – keep workers productive and happy.