Emergency & Healthcare Workers Get Easier Access to Mental Health Services

Crews tackling the Wardle Wildfire in Kootenay National Park in 2018. (Credit: Parks Canada)

The B.C. Government wants to ensure nurses, emergency dispatchers, healthcare assistants, and firefighters can access workers' compensation for work-related trauma.

Last spring, the province amended the Workers Compensation Act to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders to the list of illnesses that emergency personnel are commonly afflicted with.

"These changes to the Mental Disorder Presumption Regulation are about fairness and support for workers who experience higher-than-average mental harm due to the jobs they do on behalf of British Columbians," said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour.

As of Tuesday, April 16th, workers in these fields will have an easier time accessing funding to seek help.

In deciding on this, Bains says they looked at several factors for each occupation such as the nature of their work, the potential for exposure to traumatic events, and the rates in which workers in each field are making trauma-related claims.

For firefighters and those in related occupations, the changes will also now include cancer and heart disease.

"This is great news for firefighters who battle fires day in and day out, protecting communities around the province. It will provide them with easier access to supports they need for work-related physical and mental health injuries," said Gord Ditchburn, president, BC Professional Fire Fighters Association.

"Being able to receive timely supports is incredibly important, and in fact critical, to keeping our firefighters healthy, both physically and mentally. We are extremely grateful to the Government of British Columbia and Minister Bains for their belief and support in this regard," adds Ditchburn.

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