If the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act legislation is passed, those in need would get Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits quicker, ultimately supporting positive recovery.
First responders are more likely to encounter highly stressful situations in their work, which in turn increases the risk of PTSD. The proposed legislation would create a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders is related to their work. Based on this presumption, once a first responder receives a diagnosis of PTSD they would receive faster access to WSIB benefits by removing the need to prove a link between PTSD and the workplace.
This presumption will apply to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, workers in correctional institutions and secure youth justice facilities, dispatchers of police, firefighter and ambulance services, and First Nations emergency response teams.
Labour Minister Kevin Flynn made the announcement Feb. 18, alongside Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi. CMHA Ontario was also invited to the announcement and is pleased to see the government’s progress on this important issue.
CMHA’s social enterprise Mental Health Works has been working for years to builds capacity and raises awareness about mental health in the workplace. Recognizing the need to support the mental health of individuals who experience high occupational stress, CMHA Ontario has begun the work of adapting Mental Health Works to the justice sector in Ontario. In line with the goal of this new legislation for first responders, CMHA Ontario is working towards supporting mental health of police officers and workers in correctional institutions.