Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins says the government won’t be adding emergency room nurses to the list of occupations covered under Bill 163 allowing for presumptive treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for emergency responders.
The Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), passed in April, allows faster access to WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) compensation and proper treatment for first responders.
Under presumptive legislation, if an emergency services worker covered by the presumption is diagnosed, it would be presumed to be work-related and the worker’s claim would be accepted.
Minto Fire Chief Chris Harrow explained the proposed legislation to town council at its March 11 meeting.
At the time, councillor Jean Anderson questioned why the legislation did not cover nurses in addition to police, firefighters, paramedics, emergency dispatchers, correctional workers, and First Nations emergency response teams.
“Especially in our small hospitals people do not always come in by ambulance,” Anderson pointed out at the March meeting.
At the June 21 meeting, council received a response to concerns expressed through Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece from Hoskins.
While recognizing that “many nurses are exposed to traumatic events as part of their work” Hoskins stated, “The intent of Bill 163 is to cover first responders who arrive and assist at the scene of an emergency and are frequently exposed to traumatic incidents, events and stressors due to the nature of their work.”
Hoskins went on to explain workers in other occupations with WSIB coverage that are not included under the PTSD presumption will continue to be able to bring forward claims for PTSD, which the WSIB will adjudicate under its current process.
Anderson indicated she was not pleased with the response.
“This isn’t satisfactory. It doesn’t cut it,” she stated.