Toronto – The union campaign to expand protections for workers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will not end with the passage of Ontario’s Supporting First Responders Act, the Ontario Public Service Employees union says.
“Bill 163 is an important piece of legislation, and we support it,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “It helps to ensure compensation and treatment for what could be thousands of workers. That being said, it does not recognize that all workers can face traumatic, life-changing events on the job.
“We will continue to lobby the province to follow Manitoba’s lead and include all frontline workers in the next piece of PTSD legislation.”
Bill 163, which passed Third Reading at Queen’s Park today, ensures that paramedics, firefighters and fire investigators, police officers, correctional officers, and dispatchers who are diagnosed with PTSD are presumed to have developed it as a result of their work. This removes the requirement that they prove that their diagnosis is work-related, and opens the door to treatment options and WSIB benefits for PTSD sufferers.
“Workers in many occupations face trauma at work,” Thomas said. “For example, of the top 10 occupations that experience workplace violence, many are in health care, including Registered Nurses and Registered Practical Nurses. Also, child protection workers, probation and parole officers, provincial bailiffs, and others are far more likely to suffer from PTSD than the average worker.”
Thomas said he was disappointed that Bill 163 was not amended at the committee stage to include all workers.
“OPSEU members told some stories about PTSD to the Standing Committee on Social Policy that were both gut-wrenching and heart-breaking,” he said. “We will continue to tell those stories until all workers with PTSD can access the support they need.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931