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P.E.I. workforce minister defends post-traumatic stress disorder legislation

Sonny Gallant, Workforce and Advanced Learning minister, said both college and university students will soon be eligible to collect EI during their post secondary education in the province. Gallant said further details in the coming weeks will be announced about this new program
Sonny Gallant, Workforce and Advanced Learning minister, speaks with MLA Tina Mindy in this file photo.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The P.E.I. government’s legislation to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder was meant to expand coverage for workers and wasn’t a cost-saving measure, says Workforce Minister Sonny Gallant.

During Tuesday’s question period, the Opposition asked about the government’s decision to table its own legislation to have PTSD covered by the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) despite a private member’s bill passed in December.

Gallant said the Opposition’s bill was a good one and he commended them for it.

“We just felt as a government we needed to take it further,” he said.

“We just felt as a government we needed to take it further.”
-Workforce Minister Sonny Gallant

The government bill, which was on the floor for debate last week, expanded the scope of coverage for Island workers but limited PTSD diagnosis to only psychiatrists and psychologists.

Although it passed in December, the private member’s bill hasn’t been proclaimed.

Related: CUPE P.E.I. calls on province to proclaim PTSD legislation before the end of the spring session

On Tuesday, Aylward said if fewer health professionals are allowed to make PTSD diagnoses under the legislation it means fewer cases will be diagnosed for Island workers.

“Of course, that allows the cost to be lowered to government and the WCB,” Aylward said.

He asked if limiting who could diagnose PTSD was a way to reduce costs.

Gallant denied it was a cost-savings measure.

“Just to initially answer the question, absolutely not,” he said.

With the Opposition asking why the government thought it was right while workers who support the private member’s bill were wrong, Gallant said that wasn’t the case.

“We don’t feel we’re right and anyone is wrong,” he said.

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