We are lucky, as Canadians, that we live in a society that tries to provide emergency and crisis support when we need it. We are also very lucky that these services are provided by skilled and qualified professionals who take on the role of First-Responder when emergencies and crises happen. First-Responders are usually fire fighters, paramedics, and police officers, among others, who take care of us when we need them the most. On the other hand, who is taking care of First-Responders when the level of crises become insurmountable for those who provide emergency services to us?
There has been a visible and pro-active push through social media and general media campaigns to promote and discuss the impact of on-going crisis response as experienced by First-Responders in the form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While the level of awareness about the impact of PTSD on First-Responders is increasing, so too has the need to have an increase in the formal recognition of PTSD as a ‘legitimate’ work-related illness in Ontario. To date, First- Responders impacted by PTSD have not been able to access intervention and support through traditional worker’s compensation and benefits due to the stigma associated with PTSD as a mental illness and the lack of recognition that their PTSD stems directly from the workplace.
The issue of PTSD may affect thousands of workers from different unions. This has provided an opportunity for several unions to come together and push for much needed legislative change in the province of Ontario.
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The power and positive impact of the collective voice is clear. On April 6, 2016, “Bill 163 Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) 2016,” received Royal Assent.
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Though the path to make legislative changes may be difficult, it is so important to ensure that successful change is possible and that the end-result truly provides a benefit to everyone.
- Why does PTSD need to be recognized as a work-related illness through Bill 163?
- Outline the steps that are required for an issue to move through a legislative process and to become law.
- What types of programs can an employer put into place to provide resources and support for workers who may be impacted by PTSD?