Union representatives to vote on paramedic PTSD bill

The bill would recognize PTSD as a work related diagnoses and will be voted on by MPPs tomorrow; the four unions combined represent nearly 8,000 paramedics

TORONTO — A bill that recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder as a work-related diagnosis for Ontario paramedics and other emergency responders will be voted on by MPPs tomorrow.

Paramedics and communication officers who are representatives of four labor groups with nearly 8000 Ontario paramedic members among them, will be in the Legislative gallery at Queen's Park, to support and mark the event.

Bill 163 will go a long way in lessening the stigma associated with PTSD and paramedics getting help and treatment before it's too late. Research shows that because of frequent exposure to traumatic situations, paramedics and other first responders are at least twice as likely to suffer from PTSD as the general population.

Paramedics from Ottawa, Hamilton, Toronto, Renfrew, Durham, Peel and ORNGE will be in attendance for tomorrow's vote on Bill 163.

Concerned that the province was taking recommendations on paramedic issues from some who do not represent the majority views of working paramedics, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, UNIFOR and the Service Employees International Union formed the Paramedic Working Group last year. The intent of the group is to ensure that dialogue with the provincial government on priority paramedic policy and patient safety issues represents the perspective of the majority of paramedics and communications officers.

The inclusion of emergency medical services communications officers under Bill 163 is a good example of where the Minister of Labour listened to the collective and majority voice of paramedics. The Paramedic Working Group will continue to stress to the government that changes be made to the PTSD legislation increasing the retroactivity application from 24 months to 5 years and that would include health care workers.

The group is optimistic that the government will weigh the Paramedic Working Group common position on pending potential changes in several areas that will have impact of patient care and public safety. 

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