According to data just released to the National Joint Council’s Disability Insurance Plan Board of Management, claims involving mental health conditions represented 52 per cent of disability insurance claims approved for federal public service employees in 2018. In other words, there are now more federal disability claims approved for mental health conditions than non-mental health conditions.
Historically high percentage
Although in the past, mental health claims have comprised the highest portion of approved disability claims, this is the first instance where the percentage has exceeded 50 per cent in the 49-year history of the federal disability insurance plan. It is also significant to note that federal disability claims are only approved when an employee has been medically incapable of working for a minimum of 13 weeks or the expiry of accrued sick leave credits, whichever is later.
Approved claims twice as likely to come from women
The data also indicates that an increasingly disproportionate number of approved federal disability insurance claims have been filed by women. Although women only represent 55 per cent of employees in the federal public service, they account for 69 per cent of all federal disability insurance claims approved in 2018, which means that approved claims are almost twice as likely to come from women as opposed to men. The reason behind this needs to be further investigated to determine whether there are systemic issues.
“More than one out of every two approved disability insurance claims in the Federal Public Service involves some form of mental health condition,” observes PSAC National President Chris Aylward. “Obviously, there remains much work to do in terms of addressing mental health issues in the workplace,” Aylward adds.
Factor leading to impasse at the bargaining table
“This is one of the contributing factors which has led to the current impasse in collective bargaining between the PSAC and Treasury Board, who was intent on deleting Appendix M (Memorandum of Agreement for a Joint Task Force on Mental Health) from the current collective agreement.”
“The PSAC is committed to continuing to promote and pursue the establishment of programs and services to improve the mental well-being of all federal public service employees. This is the objective behind the inclusion of Appendix M in the collective agreement,” says Aylward.