Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


February 23, 2016

Bill: The Workers Compensation Amendment Act 2016

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

...

S. Simpson: This legislation will institute a presumptive clause for first responders in British Columbia. Under this legislation, if a first responder is suffering from an incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, it will be deemed to be as a result of their occupation, unless there was evidence of contrary. This will remove hurdles and ensure timely support for those public servants who need treatment.

We know today that 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. Sadly, we have also seen more than 80 suicides among first responders in Canada since April 2014.

This serious mental health challenge first responders face is directly related to their service. We know that, 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 comprehend.

We also know PTSD is not usually 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 conditions.

Alberta and Manitoba have already adopted a presumptive clause. Ontario and New Brunswick have announced their intention to take action.

While this legislation is specific to post-traumatic stress disorder, I know that there are a number of other related mental health challenges that deserve consideration as well. I believe this legislation would set the foundation for discussions around expanding the scope of a presumptive clause in the future.

In the past, this Legislature moved unanimously to adopt legislation that put in place a presumptive clause for certain cancers that have been proven an occupational hazard for firefighters. That was the right thing to do. Today, we have the opportunity to do the right thing again and adopt a presumptive clause for British Columbia’s first responders. Let us take action to support those who save the lives of fellow British Columbians every day.

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

Bill M203, Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2016, 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.

https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/debate-transcripts/40th-parliament/5th-session/20160223am-Hansard-v33n3

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