Yukon NDP tables legislation to support first responders facing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

This afternoon, the Yukon NDP tabled ‘presumptive legislation’ that reflects calls from Yukon first responders to provide better support for emergency response workers who experience traumatic incidents as a result of their work. The bill amends Yukon’s Worker’s Compensation Act to improve access to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) compensation by placing the onus on the employer to prove that the illness in not work-related.

At present, first responders requesting worker’s compensation for PTSD are responsible for establishing the relationship between their illness and their employment. Much like presumptive legislation passed in 2012 for Yukon firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer, this bill recognizes the high likelihood that PTSD may not manifest itself during a first responder’s employment term.

A budding movement in Canada supports the growing recognition of the harms associated with PTSD. Jurisdictions like Alberta and British Columbia have implemented presumptive legislation that removes barriers to worker’s compensation access. Yukon first responders like Association of Yukon Fire Chiefs president Chief Jim Regimbal support today’s bill.

“We have to be more proactive and protect those who protect others. The government must give first responders the tools so that we know that we can come forward,” said Chief Regimbal. “We have to move away from calling PTSD a disorder and move towards calling it an injury -- because that’s what it is.”

The Yukon NDP’s bill is supported by a motion that calls on the government to listen to first responders and further de-stigmatize PTSD through a proactive support framework. First responders have been clear: a more proactive approach to support, education and training would greatly enhance their ability to deal with potentially traumatic incidents before they are encountered at work.

“Yukon first responders have been calling for this common-sense presumptive legislation and support framework for some time,” said Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson before tabling the bill in the Yukon Legislative Assembly this afternoon. “We ask first responders to do difficult work in challenging conditions at best. The least we can do is offer them the support they need when they experience the traumatic stress that is, sadly, a reality of their unique work.”

The presumptive legislation tabled by the Yukon NDP is available online here.

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For more information, please contact:

Mike Fancie, Yukon NDP Official Opposition
867-689-4866 or mike.fancie [at] yla.gov.yk.ca

 

Photo: mwichary / Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.