One is a member of a country, a profession, a civilization, a religion. One is not just a man.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wartime Writings 1939-1944, translated from French by Norah Purcell
You Are Not Alone PTSD BC...we have your backs...do you have ours?
Presumptive Legislation For BC - Unlike the other Provinces, our Government rejected our Private Members Bill M203 put forward by Shane Simpson, NDP, Opposition to Minister of Labor, Shirley Bond
PROPOSED PRESUMPTIVE CLAUSE FOR THE FIRST RESPONDERS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
• Under section 5.1” Add “Presumptive Clause “The Mental Health Injury (MHI) shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proven, to be an injury that arose out of and occurred during the course of the worker’s employment in response to a traumatic event AND/OR a series of traumatic events to which the worker was exposed in carrying out the worker’s duties as any emergency medical first responders, firefighters, police officers, peace officers or 911 communication officers;
In this section, (a) “emergency medical first responders” means an individual who is registered as a member of the designated health discipline of Emergency Medical Responder, Professional Care Paramedic, Advanced Life Support, Critical Care Paramedic, Infant Transport Paramedic full-time, or part-time under the Health Disciplines Act – specific areas of practice; (b) “firefighter” means a full-time, part-time, casual or volunteer firefighter; (c) “peace officer” means an individual appointed as a peace officer police officer, sheriff, corrections officer; and “911 operators”, means individuals full-time, part time employed or reserves under any of the above Regulated Organizations.
• Under Section 5.1: Remove PTSD and change to Mental Health Injury (MHI), to include and/or any mental health disorder or symptoms of PTSD or other such mental health injuries that fall under the most up to date Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (as of today, November 2016 that is the DSM V);
• Under Section 5.1 add: Upon receipt of a Claim and a report of a psychologist/psychiatrist, diagnosing the Worker has a mental Health Injury and is a work related injury, the Worker is put into the appropriate treatment immediately as laid out by the Worker's Specialist and the Worker as listed above; there will be consistency in the Worker's treatment provider at the Worker's and the present specialist's discretion; any alterations or changes to any such treatment must involve the worker and the Worker's present therapist to ensure this would be beneficial to the Worker vs causing them further trauma;
• Under Section 5.1 add: WSBC has a three month maximum time frame at any time during the claim decision process; A decision will be made based on one to three Reports (if necessary) from the Worker's psychiatrist and/or psychologist and one IME report if further psychological assessments are required, ALL parties must agree if it is in the Worker's best interest and if agreed upon, ALL three parties must agree on the individual who is doing the assessment;
• Under Section 5.1 add: When a Worker is “fit to return to work” there will be a discharge/follow up plan to be agreed upon by WSBC, the specialist and the Worker. Under Policy item 97.34, Conflict of Medical Opinion, the probable difference of opinion shall be discussed with the physicians (should refer to the treating physician or specialists) involved. The
Worker and their return to work meets the Worker’s needs. If a new career path is required, then all three parties must agree, based on an outside third party employment counselling centre, what career path is best suited and is of interest of the Worker including finding a job on par with what the Worker was accustomed and if training will be required;
PTSD and Emergency Services Workers: Alberta leads the way in creating presumptive legislation for workers’ compensation claims.
• An AB governmental explanation of the presumptive legislation from May 2012: Alberta Bill 1 Info
Recent amendments to Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Act have made it easier for emergency services workers—firefighters, emergency medical technicians, peace officers and police officers—to establish post-traumatic stress disorder claims. The amendments, in effect as of December 10, 2012, create a refutable presumption that the PTSD claims of emergency services workers arise out of and occur during the course of their employment.
Section 24.2(2) of the Act provides:
If a worker who is or has been an emergency medical technician, firefighter, peace officer or police officer is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by a physician or psychologist, the post-traumatic stress disorder shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proven, to be an injury that arose out of and occurred during the course of the worker’s employment in response to a traumatic event or series of traumatic events to which the worker was exposed in carrying out the worker’s duties as an emergency medical technician, firefighter, peace officer or police officer.
The Act also requires the Workers’ Compensation Board to assist emergency services workers in obtaining or providing “treatment by culturally competent clinicians who are familiar with the research concerning treatment of first responders for post-traumatic stress disorder”.
Alberta was the first province in Canada to provide presumptive workers’ compensation coverage for these types of claims.
Fire fighter, presumptive legislation, house fire, occupational risks, turnout gear, Photography by Daniel Fleming Source: Flickr
Most provinces, including Ontario and Alberta, have presumptive legislation for firefighters that covers certain types of cancer and cardiac events. For example, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (and its regulations) identifies eight types of cancer that are presumed to be occupational diseases for firefighters (unless that presumption can be rebutted). Ontario’s legislation also creates a rebuttable presumption that a cardiac event that takes place within 24 hours of a firefighter attending at a fire scene or actively participating in a training exercise that involves a simulated fire emergency is an occupational disease.
A recent private members bill in Ontario – Bill 129, Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), 2012 – proposed presumptive legislation for PTSD claims for Ontario’s emergency services workers. The bill passed First Reading on October 4, 2012 but died less than two weeks later when the legislature was prorogued. With great fortitude, Ontario's Legislation reached Royal Ascent the summer of 2016, as has Manitoba, New Brunswick and at the end of October so did Saskatchewan. It was in the fall of 2016 when the Yukon began discussions around writing of their Clause and of course the Federal Government has just passed the second reading of Bill C211, a Private Members Bill brought forward by our own former MLA Todd Togherty of Prince George, BC. Thank you Mr. Dougherty for taking the time to listen to us and truly hear what we were telling you. You heard our needs and truly want to make a differences so we all thank you for your hard work.
This means that 50% of Canada has realized that this a financially responsible thing to do, it saves the Province money in so many areas, hospital beds, mental health centres, police and ambulance fees, detox and treatment centres, the homeless population will drop dramatically, rebuild the sturdy work force we once had, never mind the legally, morally and ethically responsible thing to do. Somehow, WorkSafe BC and our Government would rather deny the claims and allow our first responders to live on the streets or die by suicide. Minister did say that the Government does "care about their first responders so we have committees looking into how to introduce programs for employers to roll out to their employee so their employees can "build a resilient mind"?
As more attention is focused on the importance of protecting workers’ mental (and physical) health, we hope that other provinces, including BC will finally follow suit.
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