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New bill must recognize all workers with PTSD: OPSEU

Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is commending the provincial government’s decision to guarantee treatment and compensation to more workers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But a new bill introduced today still falls short of covering all workers exposed to trauma on the job, the union says.

The government changed the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act in 2016 to say that PTSD experienced by workers in certain “first responder” occupations would be presumed to be the result of trauma in the workplace. At the time, those occupations included paramedics, firefighters and fire investigators, police officers, correctional officers and provincial dispatchers. Today’s legislation adds adult and youth probation officers, probation and parole officers, provincial bailiffs, and some health care workers, including Registered Nurses and Registered Practical Nurses, to the list.

“Inclusion of these additional frontline workers will change the lives of so many workers and their families,” said OPSEU probation and parole representative Scott McIntyre. “We have campaigned hard and waited for this moment. However, too many are still left out.

“Our frontline support staff must be covered under the presumptive legislation. They are often the first at the scene in community corrections.”

OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the union “will not settle for anything less than full recognition of all workers living with PTSD.

“Half-measures don’t cut it,” he said. “Anyone who experiences trauma in the workplace could have PTSD – and they shouldn’t have to prove it is work-related to get the help they need. We are calling on Premier Wynne and the Liberals to do what Manitoba did and extend PTSD coverage to all workers.”

Frontline workers still not automatically covered for PTSD under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act include child protection workers and other enforcement officers. Many other professions experience high levels of exposure to workplace trauma, including courthouse and social service workers.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President: 613-329-1931
Scott McIntyre, OPSEU probation and parole provincial representative: 705-477-1931