TORONTO, Feb 2, 2016 /CNW/ - Unifor applauds the announcement by the Ontario Government of the first piece of a strategy to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for emergency response workers.
"The Ministry acknowledges that emergency response workers such as paramedics, police and firefighters are at least twice as likely as the general population to suffer from PTSD due to the risk of exposure to traumatic stress in the line of duty," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. "And while this announcement is clearly an important first step, we urge those in government to take the next logical step and approve Bill 2."
Unifor continues to call for unanimous endorsement and prompt passage in the provincial Legislature of Bill 2: The Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act. Bill 2 was introduced by Cheri DiNovo, MPP (Parkdale—High Park) as a private members' bill to alter the rules at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Should an emergency response worker suffer from PTSD, under Bill 2 the disorder would be presumed to be an occupational disease, unless the contrary was shown.
Manitoba has already implemented this system recognizing PTSD as an occupational disease as of January 1, 2016 and Unifor has been urging the Ontario government to follow suit. The intention is to reduce stigma around mental illness and to make it less bureaucratic to establish a causal connection between PTSD and the impact on a worker's employment.
"We're encouraged to see the Ontario strategy includes a number of new initiatives to help prevent or mitigate the risk of PTSD among first responders," said Unifor Ontario Regional Director Katha Fortier. "But we also need better, more just systems to support the thousands who are already suffering with PTSD."
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including 500 flight and land paramedics in Ontario. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.
For further information: please contact Unifor Communications Staff Representative Shelley Burgoyne at firstname.lastname@example.org or (cell) 902-717-7491.