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

Salmon Arm athletes hit the track in Cowichan 2018 BC Games

Results from day one with Thompson-Okanagan team are in

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Saturday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Taxi collides with parked dump truck in Salmon Arm

No word yet on the cause or if charges will be laid

Racers wanted for Shuswap soap box derby

Salmon Arm 10-year-old Brody Paton is making preparations for annual Friendship Day event

Melodic summer evenings live on in the Shuswap

WOW has grown from a small gathering to a weekly festival that attracts from 500 to 1,000 people

VIDEO: Victoria woman recounts driving past wildfire near Peachland

Jenna Smith compared the fire to an apocalypse movie

B.C. mining company, involved in 2014 spill, ordered to pay lost wages

Mount Polley Mining Company must pay wages to 26 employees who were laid off without proper notice

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

No Name brand chicken nuggets recalled due to possible salmonella

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says multiple illnesses reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario

Lodeiro scores twice to help Sounders beat Whitecaps 2-0

Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he converted a penalty kick

RDOS fire update: emergency social services moved

Centre moved to Penticton Memorial Arena for Saturday and Sunday

RDOS: Evacuation order ammended, residents north of Summerland can return home

Properties in the Summerland region still on evacuation alert

Most Read