Sandy Ranger, a paramedic in Parksville stands with Bruce Honeyman, advanced care paramedic in Victoria, on the steps of the legislature Wednesday, where Minister Harry Bains announced amendments to legislation that would eliminate barriers for first responders to access compensation for mental trauma. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

B.C. first responders to get better mental health support

Labour Minister Harry Bains to introduce legislation adding PTSD as ‘presumptive condition’

First responders in B.C. will now have greater access to services and compensation to treat mental health and trauma, Labour Minister Harry Bains announced Wednesday.

Bains will introduce amendments to the Workers Compensation Act, that, if passed, will add post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental injuries to a list of “presumptive conditions” no longer requiring workers to prove their disease or disorder is work-related.

RELATED: B.C. paramedics focus of PTSD documentary

“These are the people … who are the first at crash sites to save and treat victims, who put their lives on the line to battle raging house and building fires, are the first to respond to all kinds of horrific crimes,” Bains said on the steps of the B.C. legislature.

Mental health injuries can be just as devastating as physical ones, he said, and this is especially true for first responders, sheriffs and correctional workers.

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy called the changes “long overdue.”

Currently, two types of work-related mental disorders are recognized: a reaction to one or more traumatic events at work, and a reaction primarily caused by significant work-related stressors, such as bullying or harassment.

Workers have to prove their claim is valid by establishing that their injury was caused by their employment, in addition to being diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

RELATED: Overdose crisis takes emotional toll on local paramedics

Cameron Eby, provincial president of Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., called the announcement “a great start” adding that he hopes to see dispatchers and emergency call takers included in the new guidelines as well.

“We’re involved in transporting the patients so there’s a bit of a longer contact and more of an intimate contact with patients in their time of need, and that has a profound effect on the paramedics doing that work,” he said.

Eby pointed out legislation like this helps break down the barriers and the stigma around PTSD and other mental health injuries.

The opioid crisis, he said, was likely a contributing factor in the province’s move to enhance support.

“I’ve heard from those paramedics that it’s taking a toll on them when they have to see the same patients over and over again,” he explained. “There’s an additional emotional attachment to those situations.”

The proposed amendments will specifically apply to firefighters, police, paramedics, sheriffs, and correctional officers.

Several other provinces already have similar legislation in place, including Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Terrace Search and Rescue headquarters gets $100K boost from Prince Rupert Port Authority

Investment to help grow regional response capacity in Northwest B.C.

Northern Sea Wolf Wednesday sailing delayed

Adverse weather will lead to a late night arrival for passengers

Molly Wickham endorses Skeena-Bulkley Valley Green candidate Mike Sawyer

In July, Wickham filed a lawsuit against CGL over the destruction of the Gidimt’en checkpoint camp

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Most Read