FREDERICTON, Nov. 8, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) gather today at the Legislative Building to raise awareness about the first responders' profession and the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in this particular occupational group. They are calling upon the provincial and federal governments to adopt a presumption for PTSD for all first responders, as recommended by a report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, published in October.
As workers' compensation laws vary across Canada, more and more public safety officers are asking for a national plan on Operational Stress Injuries (OSI). In New Brunswick, legislation establishing the presumption that PTSD is work-related for emergency responders was introduced in April 2016 by Labour Minister Francine Landry. The Bill obtained royal assent in June 2016. Although this piece of legislation is a step in the right direction, UCCO-SACC-CSN has some major issues with several of its premises. « The Bill limits the status of emergency responders to police officers, firefighters and paramedics. Correctional officers are first responders behind the walls. Because we're always out of sight, it is often difficult to recognize the traumatic impact of events that occur in the context of our work », stated Jason Godin, UCCO-SACC-CSN National President.
Since 2012, five provinces, including New Brunswick, have amended their legislation such that PTSD is presumed to be a workplace injury among first responders, removing the burden to prove a connection between the worker's diagnosis and their job. Unfortunately, the newly adopted New Brunswick legislation is the most restrictive in terms of who is recognized as an emergency responder. « We, as correctional officers, are exposed to traumatic situations on a day-to-day basis. It has been established that more than 25% of us are suffering from PTSD. We shouldn't have to fight for the recognition of mental health issues related to our work », added Jeff Wilkins, UCCO-SACC-CSN Atlantic Regional President.
UCCO-SACC-CSN is asking all Members of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick to support correctional officers in their struggle for recognition of their status as emergency responders. « This could really change lives », concluded Mr. Wilkins.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) has over 7400 members in five major regions of Canada: British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic. UCCO-SACC-CSN represents the job titles of CX1 and CX2 in 49 federal institutions.
For further information: Olivia Tynes, Atlantic Regional Vice-President (UCCO-SACC-CSN), 902 890-1916