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You Are Not Alone PTSD BC...we have your backs...do you have ours?
Presumptive Legislation In Other Provinces
British Columbia, once considered a progressive province, is antiquated when it comes to caring about the well-being of its first responders, which in turn means the health and safety of every citizen in this Province. I am hoping with our New Government, this will change, and change quickly. The kind of legislation we are lobbying for would provide immediate treatment and benefits to those who have been diagnosed with a work-related mental health injury.
Since December 2012 Alberta has had presumptive legislation for their first responders, and as of 2017 Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba have the same. Only MB’s reaches even further, and covers all employees, in all occupations who are covered by WCB.
So the question is: Why is BC resistant to introduce presumptive legislation? This questions haunts at least five members of our group. Here’s why:
On June 5, 2015, Lisa Jennings and four members of You are not Alone PTSD BC had a meeting with the Minister of Jobs, Skills and Training, Shirley Bond. Minister Bond heard horrific stories directly from those who have attended the most gruesome of emergency calls. One dispatcher told Minister Bond that because of the undue stress and denials from WSBC, she will one day kill herself and no one will find her body.
Minister Bond was told about the 10 first responders who have chosen suicide vs. living in further poverty as a result of WSBC’s denial of their claims, and the pain of their mental health injury. Furthermore, Minister Bond was given copies of numerous letters of support from municipalities from south Vancouver Island, along with the Resolutions they submitted to this years UBCM.
Minister Bond heard what needs to be done. She cannot unhear the urgent need for a presumptive clause. Minister Bond stated that from the documentation provided laws could be made, and that she will be meeting with the Minister of Health to see how maybe some gaps could be filled. She also added she will be speaking with WSBC to ensure they are doing what they can to ensure individuals are getting treatment if they ask for it.
It is on the record that when a first responder submits a WSBC claim, and is in need of treatment, all they have to do is ask at any time during their claim, regardless if has been accepted or not, and treatment will be provided.
As the meeting was coming to a close, one member told Minister Bond that we will hold this government, and her, personally responsible should there be another suicide. Sadly, within weeks there were two. Minister Bond received numerous emails from members of this group reiterating that these last two suicides were a result of the government’s complete ignorance when it comes to mental health injury claims, and pure lack of compassion.
How many more of our dedicated, selfless first responders have to lose their lives before our government realizes we are nearing, or have reached a crisis point?
Even at the Federal Level, MP Todd Dougherty, (of Prince George) who was contacted by this group, a woman in Saskatchewan, and Ontario...all advocates for First Responders and the Presumptive Clause, spoke to Mr. Dougherty and we now wait for Bill C211 to reach Royal Ascent. It passed all the reading with everey Member of Parliment endorsing it 100%, Eventually, BC and the rest of Canada will be forced to adopt this legislation. So, let's do it now before one more precious life is lost.
In this section of our website you can see what other provinces have done with regards to presumptive legislation for its first responders.
Saskatchewan's Presumptive Legislation
Well, aside from the Territories we can now say 50% has done the financially responsible, legally, morally, ethically right thing to do with this GOLD STAR Presumptive Clause. This should be a non-partisan issue however, it is not seen that way here in BC, and with an election year in 2017, one would ask....how is this not considered important enough to any Party to make it a Platform issue?
Manitoba's Presumptive Legislation
Manitoba’s presumptive legislation is interesting because although it was inspired by the needs of first responders, it covers all employees in the province who are covered by WCB.
Ontario’s Presumptive Legislation
Ontario’s Presumptive Legislation has also passed for its first responders.
The applicable section of the Bill reads as follows:
Presumption re: post-traumatic stress disorder
(2) If an emergency response worker suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the disorder is presumed to be an occupational disease that occurs due to the nature of the worker’s employment as an emergency response worker, unless the contrary is shown.
The Bill can be read in its entirety here.
New Brunswick’s Presumptive
New Brunswick Bill 15:
Bill 15 is a piece of presumptive legislation that will apply to firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and sheriffs, and like those WCB amendments already in passed in AB and MB, would presume that unless proven to the contrary, a first responder’s PTSD would be considered work-related.
The applicable section of the legislation reads as follows:
7.1(2) If a worker who is or has been a firefighter, paramedic, police officer or sheriff 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 a series of traumatic events to which the worker was exposed in carrying out the worker’s duties as a firefighter, paramedic, police officer or sheriff.
Alberta's Presumptive Clause
May 2012, Bill 1 to legislate worker's compensation coverage for Alberta's first responders: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will be presumed to be work related.
"Bill 1 reaffirms our committment to our Province's first responders recognizing their crucial role in Albertan's safety and health and dealing with some of life's most traumatic experiences. These brave men and women put their lives on the lone in our greatest time of need, and we need to respond to them when they need help"
Changes proposed under Bill 1: The Workers' Compensation Amendment Act will allow firefighters, police officers, sheriffs and paramedics to receive compensation for PTSD without having to prove their condition is work related.
Alberta will be the first Province in Canada to provide such coverage.