Should workplace stress be compensated?

The Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia is asking the public to respond to its proposal to compensate for workplace stress.

The current definition around workplace stress indicates that workers may only be compensated for stress if it is an “acute reaction to a traumatic event.”  As recently as December 2012, the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal ruled that: “the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not violated by the exclusion of compensation for workplace injuries that arise from gradual onset stress.”  While the decision is being appealed, the WCB wants to change its definition of workplace stress to align with other provinces and avoid any accusations that the current definition impinges on Human Rights. 

Possible impacts of the proposed policy on WCB rates, claims, and workload include:

  • More employees will file for WCB compensation;
  • The number of approved claims will likely increase;
  • WCB rates will have to increase;
  • More time will be spent dealing with WCB, claims, filings and Appeals.

Under the proposed policy, mental or physical conditions would not be compensable “when caused by labour relations issues such as a decision to change the worker’s working conditions; a decision to discipline the worker; a decision to terminate the worker’s employment or routine employment related actions such as interpersonal relationships and conflicts, performance management, and work evaluation.”

Feedback can be provided to the WCB no later than October 31, 2013 to: Caroline Read, Policy Analyst, WCB of Nova Scotia, E-mail:

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