Following the passage of Bill 163, Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, at the beginning of April, AMCTO is happy to share new resources on PTSD. See below for a message about these new resources from the Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA):
Supporting Ontario’s First Responders:
First responders put their lives at risk each and every day to keep all of us safe, and it’s important we provide our first responders the same unconditional support they provide to us when we need them.
Ontario’s Minister of Labour, the Hon. Kevin Flynn, committed Ontario to becoming a leader in dealing with first-responder PTSD. He brought forward a plan that addressed prevention of and resiliency to PTSD, as well as legislation that makes PTSD a workplace presumption for first responders.
We know the solution lies with a comprehensive approach which includes both preventative and legislative measures. The Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, 2016 received Royal Assent on April 6, 2016, and is a key component of that comprehensive strategy. The act provides a presumption that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosed in first responders is work-related, allowing for faster access to WSIB benefits, resources and timely treatment needed to heal and return to work safely.
The act also amends the Ministry of Labour Act to allow the Minister of Labour to collect information about an employer’s plans to prevent PTSD and authorizes the Minister to publish those plans.
The province’s prevention strategy has four major elements:
- The creation of a radio and digital campaign aimed at increasing awareness about PTSD among first responders, their families and communities and eliminating the stigma that too often prevents those in need from seeking help
- An annual leadership summit to be hosted by the Minister of Labour to highlight best practices, recognize leaders, and monitor progress in preventing and addressing PTSD
- A free online toolkit at www.firstrespondersfirst.ca with resources on PTSD tailored to meet the needs of employers and each of the first responder sectors
- Grants for research that supports the prevention of PTSD.The online toolkit offers resources for the First Responder community that have been validated through established research to understand the various steps of a PTSD program.
Over the next five months new material will continue to be added. The aim for employers is to provide access to resources and simplify the process of building their PTSD prevention plan, as the toolkit contains examples of policies, template program elements and project management tools to help assess their current readiness level, gaps and areas for intervention and additional work.