Ontario moves ahead on PTSD legislation for first responders

Presumptive provision would lead to faster treatment

Queen’s Park is moving ahead with plans to address post traumatic stress disorders for first responders.

On Feb. 18, labour minister Kevin Flynn and community safety and correctional services minister Yasir Naqvi announced the legislation, saying it would allow faster access to WSIB benefits and timely treatment for the more than 73,000 first responders in Ontario, including firefighters, police, paramedics and workers in correctional facilities.

Should it pass, the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act would also include a presumption provision. That means first responders would no longer have to prove that the job caused post traumatic stress — it would be presumed.

“This legislation will give first responders and those who work in corrections the peace of mind they deserve, and our prevention, resiliency and research initiatives will round out a comprehensive PTSD approach we can all be proud of and that will protect the brave men and women who we entrust with keeping us safe and secure,” Flynn said.

The proposed legislation would also require employers to implement PTSD prevention plans within the workplace.

According to the Ministry of Labour, first responders are at least twice as likely to suffer from PTSD compared to the general population, due to routine exposure to occupational stressors.

“We have seen the devastating impact PTSD can have on those who keep us safe — such as our police officers, firefighters, dispatchers, and correctional officers and other frontline staff in our correctional institutions,” Naqvi added. “Our government's comprehensive approach to PTSD is all about preventing, diagnosing, and supporting the recovery of those who keep our communities safe every day.”

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