New Democrats table bill to protect first responders suffering from PTSD

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VICTORIA— New Democrat spokesperson for labour Shane Simpson reintroduced legislation today that would ensure that first responders who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are presumed to have suffered the injury due to their work.

Simpson’s Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act would cover police, firefighters, ambulance paramedics, sheriffs, corrections officers and 911 dispatchers.

“We know that first responders suffer from PTSD at a rate that is double that of the general population,” said Simpson. “Sadly, we also know that this too often has led to suicide. In 2016, 63 first responders took their lives in Canada. 19 of those were in British Columbia.

“First responders provide a critical service to all British Columbians. More often than not, they are dealing with traumatic situations, crisis and too often fatalities. This has been exacerbated in recent times by the opioid overdose crisis. These workers face circumstances in their work every day that most of us cannot even imagine. The cumulative impacts on these workers is significant. PTSD is not usually a single incident as it is the buildup over time of facing these very difficult situations.”

This legislation is a response to a system at Worksafe BC where too often claims are denied or the time period to get help is too long. This legislation would establish a situation where once a first responder is diagnosed with a PTSD injury they would be deemed to have suffered the situation on the job and will have their claim accepted. This will help expedite support and treatment in a timely manner.

Six other provinces in Canada have adopted a presumptive clause for their first responders. Christy Clark has refused to act on this matter and her government continues to claim that the current system is working fine. Introducing this legislation is a final opportunity for the Christy Clark government to act before the May election.