Ontario passes legislation to support first responders with PTSD

Ontario passed legislation today that creates a presumption that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosed in first responders is work-related.

Introduced in February and passed today, the presumption under the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act allows for faster access to WSIB benefits, resources and timely treatment.

Once a first responder is diagnosed with PTSD by either a psychiatrist or a psychologist, the claims process to be eligible for WSIB benefits will be expedited, without the need to prove a causal link between PTSD and a workplace event.

The legislation applies to more than 73,000 first responders in Ontario, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics and some correctional workers.

Read: Ontario to introduce employer resources to prevent PTSD among first responders

“We know PTSD is a serious and debilitating injury and that Ontario’s dedicated first responders are more than twice as likely to suffer from it,” said Kevin Flynn, the province’s Minister of Labour. “They put themselves in harm’s way each and every day to ensure our safety, and we need to be sure they have the resources and treatment they need to heal and return to work safely.

“Coupled with the prevention and resiliency training the province is putting in place, this Act is an important step forward in recognizing the importance of psychological health in the workplace, and it will provide first responders and their families with peace of mind.”

The Act also allows the Minister of Labour to request and publish PTSD prevention plans from employers of workers who are covered by the presumption.

It is part of the province’s strategy prevent or mitigate the risk of PTSD and provide first responders with faster access to treatment and the information they need to stay healthy.

Read: How to deal with PTSD in the workplace