Bill 163 – Impact

Bill 163 Supporting First Responders Act (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD) has become law by a unanimous vote in the Legislator. This bill has changed two laws, “Workplace Safety and Insurance Act” and “Ministry Of Labour Act”.

The change in the WSIA is that PTSD is now presumed to have been caused in the course of our employment as first responders. There are a few rules that govern how this law is applied. The highlights are that if an active first responder is diagnosed as suffering from PTSD after April 6, 2016, (date the bill came into law) the WSIB will accept the claim as work related unless the contrary is proven. This will speed up and simplify getting a claim through the process. This will also quicken up getting treatment covered to help treat this disorder. There are other rules if the disorder was diagnosed prior to the date of passing into law. For those and the other rules check out the WSIB web-site under “Operational Policy Manual” and hit 15-03-13. Or feel free to contact me.

The change to the MOL act is, in my opinion, the important part of Bill 163. Under the act, the Minister may direct employers of first responders to respond to the ministry about their plans to prevent PTSD. This compels these employers to set up training in dealing with traumatic events, as well as critical incident support teams to help first responders shortly after those nasty calls we deal with. These teams should be made up of our fellow first responders who will be trained to help with dealing with traumatic events.

In my 24 years as a volunteer firefighter, I have dealt with traumatic stress a few times. In the past, the plan for dealing with this was to “suck it up”. Quite frankly this was not much help. I would moot around and try to put those tragic events some place in the back of my mind. Through the years I learned how to do this fairly well. (I thought). This past April we were called to an accident. The victim had been thrown from a car after it had rolled several times. Without going into details of this incident, it hit me hard. All the other suppressed memories along with this new one occupied my thoughts. My Deputy Station Chief noticed several of us were troubled after this call and contacted the police peer group who came and had a talk with us. Now, this was not a wave of a magic wand, but rather an opportunity to talk to help me to understand what I was going through and working out a way to deal with it. This helped me quite well and I speak from experience when I say dealing with stress is better than “sucking it up”.

If anybody has any questions on Bill 163, or anything else, please feel free to contact me.

Jeri Ottley
(H): 519-825-7866
(M): 519-324-5687
healthandsafety@ffao.on.ca

  • Section 21 Committee
  • OFM Core Planning
  • WSIB – Presumptive Legislation