On December 14, 2017, Bill 177, Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017, received Royal Assent. This amends several statutes, including the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA).As a result, effective January 1, 2018, the WSIA will allow for benefits for chronic mental stress arising out of and in the course of employment. Bill 177 provides for transitional rules to determine entitlement to mental stress claims, the key aspects of which include:
- claims of metal stress occurring on or after April 29, 2014, that have not yet been filed, can be filed by workers or their survivor(s) until July 1, 2018. Any claims filed during this six-month window will be adjudicated under the new mental stress WSIA provisions and the new Operational Policies.
- mental stress claims that were already filed in a timely manner and are still pending before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) on January 1, 2018 (i.e. the WSIB has not yet made an operational level or Appeals Branch level decision in respect of the claim) will be adjudicated by the WSIB pursuant to the new provisions, regardless of the date on which the worker’s mental stress occurred.
- if a worker (or a worker’s survivor) filed a timely mental stress claim and their timely appeal is filed with or is pending before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) as of January 1, 2018, the WSIAT will refer the claim back to the WSIB to re-adjudicate the claim pursuant to the new provisions, regardless of the date on which the worker’s mental stress occurred.
- The transitional provisions do not differentiate between chronic mental stress and traumatic mental stress; therefore, either type of mental stress claim could be filed under these provisions.
Outside these transitional rules, workers cannot re-file mental stress claims that were already denied by the WSIB or the WSIAT. The transitional rules come into force on January 1, 2018.The relevant portion of Bill 177 that covers this topic in more detail is outlined under schedule 45 and can be reviewed HERE.The transitional rules can also be referenced under section 13.1 in the WSIA itself.