By Andrew Schopp
Reaction continued Thursday to a move by New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo to get aid faster to first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
DiNovo introduced her bill in the legislature last week — the third time she’s done that.
Currently, police officers, firefighters and paramedics must prove they developed the illness as a result of an incident experienced in the field before a disability claim is accepted, said Mark McKinnon, president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association.
“In any emergency service part of your daily work is coming across emergency scenes and sometimes they are fairly horrific,” McKinnon told Humber News.
“Firefighters, police, paramedics experience things that the average person doesn’t. It takes a toll on our members and we certainly believe that it is something the government should be looking at,” he said.
Bill 129 will streamline the process of having a PTSD claim with the Workplace Safety Insurance Board approved. Presumptive legislation will allow faster access to compensation.
“It’s one of those important issues we have to keep pounding on until it happens,” DiNovo told The Toronto Star earlier this week.
McKinnon said the current process of filing a claim, which can take over a year to get approved, could lead to more stress to an already fragile psyche.
“A lot of times if the claim is accepted they are then appealed so then its goes further and puts even more stress on the individual,” he said.
Opponents of the bill, such as the Ontario Association of Police Service Boards, say the bill will lead to the abuse of benefits.
“This presumptive legislation will not facilitate a healthy workplace,” the services board said in a press release Wednesday.
“The vast majority of police work directly or indirectly for municipalities, so costs associated with such legislation would be borne largely by municipalities rather than the provincial government — at a time when policing costs have escalated to unsustainable levels,” the statement said.