TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2014 /CNW/ - Representatives of OPSEU's Corrections Division have lobbied Ontario MPPs from all parties to gain support for Bill 2, An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 with respect to post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill, which has passed first reading in the Legislature, would recognize Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as an occupational disease for first responders under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA).
On October 29th, Corrections representatives met with MPPs from the NDP, Liberal, and Progressive Conservative parties as well as the Corrections and Labour Ministers and report that all spoke positively about the bill.
"Everyone recognizes that Corrections workers can face significant trauma in the course of the daily duties," said Dan Sidsworth, chair of OPSEU's Corrections Division, and one of the representatives who met with the MPPs. "However, the bill in its current form does not include Correctional Officers as first responders. This is a significant problem for our members who can be severely impacted by PTSD and the complications they face filing a WSIA claim."
Sidsworth went on to say that Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi said he, along with Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, are working to improve conditions in Ontario's correctional facilities.
"We told the Minister that recognizing Correctional Officers in Bill 2 would be a huge step to improving the morale of staff, which would have a positive influence on conditions in the institutions," Sidsworth said. "There were 855 assaults on staff in the last year alone, higher than any province in Canada. Something needs to be done quickly, and this would be an excellent start."
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that the Ministry also needs to quickly address the number of inmates in the facilities that are suffering from mental illness, which can fluctuate between 30-40 per cent at any given time.
"Our members need the proper training, staffing and equipment to deal with these situations, as well as support when they are affected by trauma in the workplace," Thomas said. "These women and men are the first responders in the most dangerous places in the province, and their work keeps everyone in Ontario safe."
SOURCE: Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Dan Sidsworth: 905-691-7955, Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 416-443-8888