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Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to cover PTSD for first responders

Posted July 8, 2014

Proposed amendments to Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Act tabled yesterday morning by the new Liberal majority government, will presume post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by police officers, firefighters, and paramedics, is an "occupational disease that occurred due to the employment as an emergency response worker, unless the contrary is shown."

"Post-traumatic stress disorder means an anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a traumatic event or experience with symptoms that may include flashbacks, nightmares and intense feelings of fear or horror" according to the definition contained in Bill 2, which received First Reading.

Approximately seven years ago, the Ontario Liberal government passed Presumptive legislation that applies to full-time, part-time and volunteer firefighters, and fire investigators, as it relates to a variety of different cancers and heart injury which are "presumed" to be work-related diseases.

New Tecumseth, which is self-insured up to a $500,000 deductible for Workplace issues, and did pay out a claim to a deceased New Tecumseth Station 1 firefighter, who died from a cancer listed in the presumptive legislation. Since then, New Tecumseth has been trying to recoup funds from its insurance, without success at last update. This current amendment for PTSD, now moves on to committee and must still pass two more Readings. It is not retroactive, as it "applies only to post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed on or after the day the Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), 2014 receives Royal Assent."

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