Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Plan to Help First Responders Deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Plan to Help First Responders Deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Article excerpt

Ontario plan helps first responders with PTSD

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TORONTO - Ontario's labour minister announced plans Monday to help first responders deal with post traumatic stress disorder, and suggested it would be recognized as a work-related illness for police, firefighters and paramedics.

The stress and danger faced by first responders can have a lasting and serious effect not only on their physical health, but their mental health as well, said Kevin Flynn.

"Research shows first responders are at least twice as likely as the general population to suffer from PTSD, and that PTSD results in more suicide attempts than all other anxiety disorders," he said.

The Liberal government is taking action "to do what we can to address this issue," Flynn said in a speech to the Ontario Firefighters Association.

"This includes looking at your coverage under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, because right now, in order to be covered, you need to be able to demonstrate you were injured on the job," he said.

New Democrat Cheri DiNovo, who introduced five private member's bills over several years trying to extend WSIB coverage to first responders with PTSD, said the government must take steps to recognize that they got sick on the job.

"I can tell you tens of thousands of first responders are upset about how long this has taken," said DiNovo. "We have the highest rates of suicide in the country for first responders. Something's got to give."

Manitoba and Alberta already recognize PTSD as work-related for first responders, and Ontario has presumptive legislation that recognizes many forms of cancer as work-related illnesses for firefighters, added DiNovo. …

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