Stress disorder legislation includes local firefighters
Like other volunteer firefighters in rural Alberta, Sundre’s firefighters will be covered under the Redford government’s proposed new legislation regarding workers’ compensation coverage for first responders – something that is certainly good news to local members, says fire chief Marty Butts.
“If volunteers weren’t covered I would frown on that because 80 per cent of our firefighters are volunteers,” said Butts. “This is awesome and this is good news.”
Bill 1, the Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act, will streamline the process for Alberta’s first responders to receive Workers’ Compensation Board coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If it passes into law, the legislation will allow firefighters (full- and part-time), police officers (but not RCMP), sheriffs and paramedics to receive compensation for PTSD without having to prove their condition is work related.
“The wording in the legislation says full-time and part-time firefighters (are covered), and the part-time firefighters means a casual, volunteer or part-time member of a fire protection service,” Human Services Department spokesperson Craig Lowen told the Round Up.
The province says PTSD is an “intense emotional and psychological response to a traumatic event that is life-threatening, very disturbing or stressful” with symptoms including “reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks, emotional numbness, avoiding reminders of the event, and being on edge or easily startled.”
“Bill 1 reaffirms our commitment to our province's first responders recognizing their crucial role in Albertans’ safety and health and dealing with some of life's most traumatic experiences,” said Premier Alison Redford.
“These brave men and women put their lives on the line in our greatest time of need, and we need to respond to them when they need help.”
RCMP officers and members of the armed forces are not included under the program as they have their own coverage, which falls under federal jurisdiction.