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Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), 2016

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Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), 2016

The Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), 2016 amends the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA) and the Ministry of Labour Act. The act comes into force on Royal Assent.

Amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997

The act amends the WSIA to create a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders is work-related, leading to faster access to WSIB benefits and proper treatment.

The proposed legislation covers:

  • Police officers (including First Nations constables)
  • Firefighters (part-time, full-time and volunteer firefighters, fire investigators and firefighters who volunteer or work for Band Councils)
  • Paramedics, emergency medical attendants, and ambulance services managers whose duties include providing direct support for paramedics dispatched by a communications officer on a request for ambulance services
  • Emergency response teams
  • Correctional officers/youth services workers (including operational managers), and certain workers who provide direct health care services in correctional institutions and secure youth justice facilities
  • Workers involved in the dispatch of police, firefighter and ambulance services

Workers covered by the presumptive legislation are entitled to benefits under the WSIA if they are diagnosed with PTSD by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

A diagnosis is required that is consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. Pending claims and appeals, and new claims made for PTSD within six-months of the coming into force date, can be adjudicated in accordance with either a DSM-5 or DSM-IV (previous edition) PTSD diagnosis.

The presumption applies to new claims, as well as pending claims and claims in the process of being appealed. Previously denied claims that have exhausted the appeals process will not be reconsidered under the presumption.

Workers who were in an occupation covered by the presumption but left within the 24 month period before the legislation comes into force will be able to make a claim under the presumption if they have a PTSD diagnosis that was made within that 24 month timeframe, or if they receive a diagnosis within 24 months after the amendments come into force.

Workers in an occupation covered by the presumption who leave the occupation after the proposed legislation comes into force are able to make a claim under the presumption if they are diagnosed with PTSD within 24 months of leaving. However, if they were to be diagnosed after 24 months of leaving the occupation, they could file a claim for PTSD which would be adjudicated by the WSIB under the existing process.

Amendments to the Ministry of Labour Act

The Minister of Labour has the authority to request and publish PTSD prevention plans from employers of workers who are covered by the presumption. 

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