Proposed legislation would presume PTSD in first responders work-related

What does it mean for employers in Ontario that would be affected by change?
By Carissa Tanzola
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/18/2016

On Feb. 18, 2016, the Ontario government proposed Bill 163: An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA) and the Ministry of Labour Act (MOLA) — also known as Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), 2016. As of Feb. 23, 2016, Bill 163 made it to second reading.

If passed, Bill 163 will allow first responders faster access to Ontario WSIA benefits by removing the need to prove a causal link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a workplace event, and instead create a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in a first responder was sustained “out of and in the course of employment.” 

This assumption is intended to address the fact first responders are at least twice as likely as members of the general public to suffer PTSD given the risk of routine exposure to traumatic stressors. The proposed legislation would apply to more than 73,000 first responders in Ontario, including employees of health-care providers, municipalities and correctional services.