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Labour federation blasts N.L. Employer’s Council for ‘reprehensible’ opposition to presumptive mental health legislation

Ryan Cleary has demanded that Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, immediately resign.
Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

The president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL) called the Employer’s Council’s opposition to presumptive mental health legislation “regressive” and “reprehensible.”

In a news release Thursday, federation president Mary Shortall expressed outrage at the recent letter sent to government by the Newfoundland and Labrador Employer’s Council opposing presumptive mental health legislation.

Presumptive legislation refers to the acceptance of injury claims for a medical or psychiatric diagnosis without a worker having to prove the disorder is a result of an event or exposure while on the job.

One point in the council’s letter Shortall took particular issue with is the idea that presumption would put financial strain on employers.

The council’s letter stated, “implementing presumptive legislation for all mental stress claims, for all occupations, as is proposed by NAPE, would place the cost of all mental health treatment for the majority of the population on employers through the workers compensation system.”

However, Shortall argued other jurisdictions that have introduced presumption have not seen their workers compensation systems put under financial stress.

The NLFL’s news release stated mental illness costs the Canadian economy over $50 billion in lost productivity.

It reads, “employers would be better advised to focus their energies on what they can do to prevent mental health injuries in their workplace.”

Shortall said the federation and its 70,000 members are committed to the NAPE campaign for presumptive mental health legislation “because it’s the smart, fair and right thing to do.”

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