AB Ruling on Chronic Stress Claim Didn’t Conflict with Federal Law
A Parks Canada worker was notified by letter that he’d be disciplined if he didn’t provide an adequate response to a request filed under access to information laws. He filed a workers’ comp claim for chronic onset stress based on this letter and the stress of years of conflict over another issue. The Alberta Appeals Commission denied his claim as not meeting two of the criteria set out in its chronic stress policy. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed his appeal. The Court explained that under the GECA, provincial boards would adjudicate the workers’ comp claims of federal government employees according to provincial law—except where the GECA clearly conflicts with such law. Here, the Alberta policy’s interpretation of “accident” in the context of psychological stress claims didn’t conflict with the GECA’s “permissive and flexible definition” of this term. It was reasonable for the Commission to find that the primary cause of his psychological injury was his reaction to a letter from his employer requesting compliance and that this request wasn’t excessive or unusual in terms of normal pressures and tensions in a similar job [Martin v. Alberta (Workers’ Compensation Board),  SCC25 (CanLII), March 28, 2014].