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

Port Alberni workers to honour Day of Mourning on April 28

Annual event honours workers who lost their lives on the job

Tseshaht First Nation athlete honoured with provincial sports award

Rain Thomas competes in three different sports

Alberni Valley firefighters pass the boot for Muscular Dystrophy

Annual fundraiser started in 1967 with Port Alberni Fire Department

Cougars spotted in Sproat Lake neighbourhoods

ACRD director warns residents to keep children, pets close

Who are the Frozen Franklins? Find out at the Alberni Valley Museum

The museum and Echoes in the Ice exhibit are open April 20 during Easter weekend

VIDEO: Alberni Valley celebrates Easter weekend

Port Alberni children enjoy Easter egg hunts and spring activities

United Way opens grants to help charities tackle social issues

Charities north of the Malahat can apply for grants $2,000 to $20,000

Second earthquake in less than two hours strikes off Vancouver Island

The first earthquake happened at 1:27 p.m., the second at 2:44 p.m.

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Man’s body found in popular Cowichan Valley hiking area

Police say death not suspicious after discovery in Stoney Hill area overlooking Saltspring Island

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Vancouver Island-based company provides glass alternatives to plastic straws

Enviro Glass Straws now producing more than 60,000 straws each year

Most Read