TORONTO — The Ontario government introduced a bill on Thursday that would see post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims by first responders automatically approved by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The move comes after years of effort by CUPE paramedics, other first responders and several attempts by the Ontario NDP to change legislation so that PTSD is recognized as being a result of an emergency worker’s employment.
The “presumptive” amendment to existing legislation includes paramedics and paramedic services communication officers as well as firefighters, First Nations emergency, corrections workers and police officers, said the Minister of Labour (MOL). The proposed change would capture responders with a PTSD diagnosis as much as 24 months prior to the Bill passing into law.
“We’re optimistic that what’s being proposed by the labour minister will indeed simplify access to benefits,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. “Paramedics and other first responders often witness horrific trauma and we must all do what we can to remove the barriers for them to access help and support when they need it.”
CUPE represents over 5,500 paramedic workers across Ontario and has been campaigning for years for a Bill that recognizes PTSD can be caused by the work of first responders.
“This change to WSIB is positive but long-overdue, and I want to thank everyone – particularly NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, who has championed the cause and introduced a Bill such as this several times,” said Jeff VanPelt, a paramedic and chair of the CUPE Ambulance Committee of Ontario (CACO).
CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 250,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.
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