Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


March 2, 2017

BILL M233 - Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act

S. Simpson: I move a bill intituled the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, and ask that it be introduced and read for a first time now.

S. Simpson: I move a bill intituled the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, of which notice has been given in my name on the order paper, and ask that it be introduced and read for a first time now. 

Motion approved.

S. Simpson: This legislation will institute a presumptive clause for first responders in British Columbia. Under the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, if a first responder is diagnosed with a post-traumatic stress injury, it will be deemed to be as a result of their occupation. This will end the hurdles around WorkSafe B.C. claims and the related unacceptable delays that too many of these public servants who need support are facing today. 

First responders — including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, 911 dispatchers, sheriffs and corrections officers — suffer PTSD at more than double the rate of the general population. Tragically, we saw 63 first responders commit suicide across Canada last year, and 19 of those preventable deaths were in British Columbia. 

This serious mental health challenge that first responders face is directly related to their service. It is an injury in every sense of the word. An injury that is caused by the critical and difficult work these public servants do every day. First responders treat those with health emergencies, ensure public safety, and protect the citizens of British Columbia. In doing that work on our behalf, they too often face extreme and traumatic situations that most of us could not begin to comprehend. 

We are seeing those stresses exacerbated by the opioid overdose crisis in our province, where our first responders face this tragedy dealing with fatalities and numerous overdoses every day. 

We know that PTSD, like other mental health challenges, is not typically the result of a single event. Rather, it is cumulative in nature. Facing these difficult situations day in and day out over a career has been shown to trigger PTSD or other mental health injuries. 

Six provinces have seen the evidence and adopted comparable legislation. In B.C., the suicide numbers would suggest the urgency for action is even more dire, and we have not acted. While this legislation is specific to PTSD, I know there are a number of other mental health challenges that deserve consideration as well. I believe this legislation can set that foundation. 

If we are going to take meaningful action to support and protect those who save our lives every day in British Columbia, we need to take that motion now. It's time for the government to say yes and pass this bill. 

I move that this bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting after today. 

Bill M233, The Worker's Compensation Amendment Act, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

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