Mental health in the workplace
Learn about how Ontario regulates psychological injuries in the workplace.
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Psychological injuries (for example post-traumatic stress disorder) may be work-related, and discriminatory treatment based on mental health disabilities and addictions may occur in the workplace. There are laws in Ontario that cover three different areas that are discussed below:
- freedom from discrimination and duty to accommodate
- workplace safety insurance
- occupational health and safety
Workplace rights and responsibilities
Freedom from discrimination and the duty to accommodate
The Ontario Human Rights Code states that every person has a right to equal treatment in employment without discrimination or harassment based on disability, among other grounds. Disability includes mental health disabilities and addictions.
For example, an employer cannot fire a worker, or deny them a job or promotion, because of a mental health issue or other disability. The employer has a duty to accommodate the worker’s disability-related needs, unless doing so would cause undue hardship, based on significant costs or health and safety factors.
The Ontario Human Rights Code sets out the roles of the three pillars of the human rights system:
- the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
- the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO)
- the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC)
The OHRC has a mandate to protect, promote and advance human rights in Ontario through education, policy development, public inquiries and litigation. It has developed a policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions.
Learn more about the policy and how the Ontario Human Rights Code applies to mental health disabilities and addictions in the workplace.
Workplace safety insurance
A worker may be entitled to compensation under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) if they experience chronic or traumatic work-related mental stress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder presumption
If a specified professional diagnoses certain workers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) may presume their PTSD is work-related unless proven otherwise.
This applies to workers, including:
- provincially regulated first responders (for example, paramedics, police and firefighters)
- nurses who provide direct patient care
- specified workers in correctional institutions
Find the list of workers who may be covered under the PTSD presumption.
While the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is responsible for the WSIA, it is administered and enforced by the WSIB. Visit the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board website for more details about these entitlements and how to file a claim.
Occupational health and safety
Workplace violence and workplace harassment may result in psychological injury. The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out the rights and duties of all those who have a role in dealing with workplace violence and workplace harassment.
The OHSA requires employers to:
- have workplace violence and workplace harassment policies and programs in place
- ensure that appropriate information is shared with workers about these policies and programs
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the OHSA. Visit the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development for more information on workplace violence and workplace harassment, including for example:
- Workplace violence and harassment: understanding the law
- Code of practice to address workplace harassment
Think Mental Health
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development funds six health and safety associations that provide training, consulting and clinical services for workers and employers related to mental health in the workplace.
The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers
- Mental injury toolkit provides workers with a basic understanding of workplace stress, their rights and Ontario’s legal framework.
- StressAssess web tool and mobile application is designed to help individuals monitor their work-related stress, and workplaces to analyze the effects of stress on their workforce and address the issues with recommendations based on evidence-based studies.
Public Services Health and Safety Association
- Firstrespondersfirst.ca is a free, online toolkit to help develop PTSD prevention plans.
- Resources and prevention strategies to manage psychological health and safety in the workplace, including:
- specific resources and training for the health and community services sector (for example, Beyond Silence, PTSD awareness resources, etc.)
- TruReach Mental Wellness, a self-help Mental Wellness App to address depression and anxiety
- information about voluntary psychological health and safety standards
Workplace Safety and Prevention Services
- Mental health training and e-courses on topics such as raising awareness, how managers should respond, what health and safety committees should know, violence and harassment and more.
- Workplace mental health virtual solutions on awareness topics, such as workplace mental health and workplace violence and harassment.
- National standard consulting services to help workplaces identify ways to improve work environments and implement solutions that encourage a positive workplace mental health framework.
- Psychological safety resources for leaders during COVID‑19 to help employers identify and address new psychosocial risks that have emerged as a result of COVID‑19.
Infrastructure Health and Safety Association
- Offers mental health first aid training to help workers recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and provide appropriate assistance.
- Mental health in the workplace poster promotes awareness of mental health in the workplace.
Workplace Safety North
- Mental health in the workplace page provides access to tools to help create a space where workers feel safe, respected and valued.
Workers Health and Safety Centre
- Offers mental health at work training for workers, including courses on stress in the workplace, workplace violence and harassment and critical incident and post traumatic stress.
- ConnexOntario is a provincial agency offering information to Ontarians about mental health, addictions and problem gambling services. System navigator specialists answer calls, e-mails or web-chat requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- HealthyMinds@Work provides resources to help employers better understand and address mental health problems in the workplace.
- Not Myself Today is a toolkit to help employers improve mental health at work.
- Mental Health Works is an initiative by the Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association that provides workshops, presentations, webinars and guides to workplaces to build awareness and encourage healthy and safe workplaces. For example, their Mental Health in the Workplace: An Accommodation Guide for Managers and Staff guide.
- The Mental Health Commission of Canada provides tools, information and support to help employers create and maintain mentally healthy workplaces.