The Ontario government has introduced legislation directed at making it easier and faster for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder to get treatment. The province says the motion is absolutely necessary because first-responders deal with situations none of us should ever see or experience.
The new legislation would not only cover police officers, paramedics and firefighters, but also dispatchers, correctional workers and First Nations response teams. Labour Minister Kevin Flynn says first responders are at least twice as likely as the general population to suffer PTSD.
According to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust at least 10 first responders have committed suicide this year across Canada.
Under current legislation a first responder has to prove that a traumatic event triggered their PTSD. Filing a claim through the workplace safety and insurance board is an evidence-based process that forces responders to relive their experiences.
While the Association of Municipalities of Ontario welcomes the new legislation, it says it would put a strain on cities. The Association says the province needs to help manage the rising cost of emergency services so that municipalities can afford to support first responders when they need it.