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. 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 now Ontario and Manitoba have the same. Only MB’s reaches even further, and covers all employees, in all occupations who are covered by WCB. New Brunswick is are currently working on their presumptive legislation for first responders and Saskatchewan had their Private Members Bill also pass the first reading.

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?


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​

Bill28-39.pdf​



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?



Alberta’s Presumptive Legislation


December 10, 2012, police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, and sheriffs in Alberta who develop PTSD during the line of duty are immediately presumed to have developed the illness as a result of their duties. If WCB-Alberta wants to dispute the PTSD is work-related, the onus is on them to prove their case. This is of course a reverse of how the WCB usually operates.

To find out more about Alberta’s presumptive legislation, check out this page on the WCB Alberta website. It provides links to facts sheets and the Worker’s Compensation Act. http://www.wcb.ab.ca/public/news/2012/PTSD.asp


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.

http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=35114

On June 8, 2015, the province released the following press release:

June 8, 2015
PROVINCE INTRODUCES GROUNDBREAKING FIRST-IN-CANADA PRESUMPTIVE POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER LEGISLATION
– – –
Changes would make Coverage Accessible to All Workers under the Workers Compensation Act: Premier Selinger

The Manitoba government is introducing amendments to the Workers Compensation Act that would recognize post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a work-related occupational disease, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“This legislation would be unique in Canada and would truly support workers who experience a traumatic event or events in the workplace that lead to PTSD,” said Premier Selinger.  “Under this new law, the Workers Compensation Board would presume their condition was caused by the job, making it much easier to access supports, treatment and compensation.”

The premier noted this proposed change was inspired by the work of Manitoba nurses, firefighters, first responders and the Manitoba Government Employees Union who led the charge with public campaigns, recognizing the affects workplace trauma can have on their members.

“We represent a broad cross section of workers in different occupations and as such we have learned that psychological injuries can happen to absolutely anyone regardless of what they do for a living,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president, Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union.  “This legislation would make it easier for workers to get the treatment they need more quickly.”

This new bill would extend coverage and benefits to all workers eligible under WCB who are diagnosed with PTSD by a medical professional.  This would ensure timely access to compensation and support services, with the long-term goal of reducing the stigma attached to mental illness, the premier said.

“Firefighters and first responders face challenges every time they answer a call,” said Alex Forrest, president, United Firefighters of Winnipeg.  “Presumptive legislation of this kind protects front-line workers like us and it’s been a pleasure working with the Manitoba government to make this happen.”

“Being on the front line when tragedies happen can leave you with experiences you’ll never forget,” said Sandi Mowat, president, Manitoba Nurses Union.  “PTSD is a condition many of our members experience, due to the fact that nurses face cumulative exposure to primary, secondary and vicarious trauma over prolonged periods of time and this legislation would help those having to manage with this diagnoses.”

“PTSD is a real threat to working people.  Any improvements in their access to support is welcome news,” said Kevin Rebeck, president, Manitoba Federation of Labour.  “It comes as no surprise to me that Manitoba is the first jurisdiction to put this level of protection into legislation.”

Manitoba’s Five-Year Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention launched in 2013 includes mental health as one of its 10 action areas.  The plan commits Manitoba to improving supports, resources and coverage for workers who routinely face traumatic events as part of their work in an effort to reduce work-related


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.

http://ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=2994&detailPage=bills_detail_the_bill
http://www.ontla.on.ca/bills/bills-files/41_Parliament/Session1/b002.pdf


New Brunswick’s Presumptive

Legislation


New Brunswick is currently working on getting their presumptive legislation passed. According to the New Brunswick Government’s website, Bill 15—An Act to Amend the Workers’ Compensation Act—has been referred to the Standing Committee on Law Amendments.

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 proposed 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.

If you are interested in reading the Bill in full, you may do so here.


http://www1.gnb.ca/legis/bill/editform-e.asp?ID=1150&legi=58&num=1
http://www.gnb.ca/legis/bill/pdf/58/1/Bill-15.pdf


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?


Bill28-39.pdf