"Ontario now joins Alberta and Manitoba with legislation that creates the presumption that when first responders are diagnosed with PTSD it is work-related," said James Clancy, NUPGE National President.
Ottawa (22 Feb. 2016) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is welcoming the new legislation in Ontario supporting first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
More provinces adopting presumptive legislation
"Ontario now joins Alberta and Manitoba with legislation that creates the presumption that when first responders are diagnosed with PTSD it is work-related," said James Clancy, National President of NUPGE.
"Manitoba's legislation covers all workers, not only first responders," said Clancy. "During the last election campaign in Newfoundland, the Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis promised presumptive legislation for firefighters and other emergency responders, if his party was elected to government. It remains to be seen if his government will act."
Clancy sees more provinces adopting presumptive legislation as a positive development.
"Our union held a national roundtable last fall to discuss PTSD issues from a labour perspective. Legislative change was one of the areas where we felt that more work was needed."
New legislation welcomed in Ontario
“This is great news for all Ontario first responders. I’m particularly pleased for the correctional and ambulance staff that OPSEU is proud to represent," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
"We know these heroic individuals risk life and limb every working day to keep our communities safe. Now the government has finally woken up to the fact that first responders also put their emotional and mental well-being on the line.”
The legislation would create a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders is work related, leading to faster access to resources and treatment. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) would process claims faster, the government says, allowing first responders to get the help they need sooner.
Combination grassroots activism and political effort
OPSEU President Thomas applauded the activism by first responders and opposition politicians that led the Liberal government to take action.
“I want to recognize MPP Cheri DiNovo and NDP leader Andrea Horwath for fighting so hard and so long for first responders,” he said. “Cheri introduced a bill on this eight years ago. She reintroduced it four more times. Finally, the Liberals seem to have come to their senses, thanks in part to the media, who helped lay bare the PTSD crisis among first responders.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE