Sandy Ranger, a paramedic in Parksville stands with Bruce Honeyman, advanced care paramedic in Victoria, on the steps of the legislature Wednesday, where Minister Harry Bains announced amendments to legislation that would eliminate barriers for first responders to access compensation for mental trauma. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

B.C. first responders to get better mental health support

Labour Minister Harry Bains to introduce legislation adding PTSD as ‘presumptive condition’

First responders in B.C. will now have greater access to services and compensation to treat mental health and trauma, Labour Minister Harry Bains announced Wednesday.

Bains will introduce amendments to the Workers Compensation Act, that, if passed, will add post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental injuries to a list of “presumptive conditions” no longer requiring workers to prove their disease or disorder is work-related.

RELATED: B.C. paramedics focus of PTSD documentary

“These are the people … who are the first at crash sites to save and treat victims, who put their lives on the line to battle raging house and building fires, are the first to respond to all kinds of horrific crimes,” Bains said on the steps of the B.C. legislature.

Mental health injuries can be just as devastating as physical ones, he said, and this is especially true for first responders, sheriffs and correctional workers.

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy called the changes “long overdue.”

Currently, two types of work-related mental disorders are recognized: a reaction to one or more traumatic events at work, and a reaction primarily caused by significant work-related stressors, such as bullying or harassment.

Workers have to prove their claim is valid by establishing that their injury was caused by their employment, in addition to being diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

RELATED: Overdose crisis takes emotional toll on local paramedics

Cameron Eby, provincial president of Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., called the announcement “a great start” adding that he hopes to see dispatchers and emergency call takers included in the new guidelines as well.

“We’re involved in transporting the patients so there’s a bit of a longer contact and more of an intimate contact with patients in their time of need, and that has a profound effect on the paramedics doing that work,” he said.

Eby pointed out legislation like this helps break down the barriers and the stigma around PTSD and other mental health injuries.

The opioid crisis, he said, was likely a contributing factor in the province’s move to enhance support.

“I’ve heard from those paramedics that it’s taking a toll on them when they have to see the same patients over and over again,” he explained. “There’s an additional emotional attachment to those situations.”

The proposed amendments will specifically apply to firefighters, police, paramedics, sheriffs, and correctional officers.

Several other provinces already have similar legislation in place, including Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Penticton not an unsafe city, according to RCMP superintendent

RCMP superintendent says statistics are misleading

Penticton Peach takes on a brightly-lit holiday decor

Light Up the Peach generates thousands of dollars in support of hospital expansion

Penticton Vees players named to CJHL Top Prospects game

Fresh off winning a bronze medal with Team Canada West players get nod for Top Prospects games

Major milestone for Penticton hospital construction

Substantial completion of the tower marked

Photos: Wiltse Elementary Christmas Concert

Penticton school celebrates the holiday season

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

Canadian passports now available in Salmon Arm

The Service Canada office on Shuswap Street will provide weekday service in English.

‘A start:’ Alberta critical of Ottawa’s $1.6B package for ailing energy sector

A further $150 million is to be used for clean growth and infrastructure projects

New B.C. Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks adds eight to coaching staff

DeVone Claybrooks has filled out his staff for the 2019 season

Two-year-old attacked by cougar near Mission, B.C.

Boy not seriously injured in incident on Monday afternoon

Most Read