PTSD Presumption Would Help Expedite Treatment, Recovery and Return to Work
December 13, 2017 - Ontario is proposing to increase first responder support to
include all front-line nurses who provide direct patient care and suffer from post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) by expediting their access to benefits, resources and timely
treatment through the implementation of a presumption that PTSD is work-related.
Front-line nurses who are first responders face traumatic situations and are more
likely to suffer PTSD. With the new proposed presumption, once a front-line nurse
is diagnosed with PTSD by either a psychiatrist or a psychologist, the claims process
for WSIB benefits will be expedited, and nurses will not be required to prove a
causal link between PTSD and a workplace event.
"I am a nurse who has worked in hospital emergency, intensive care and paediatrics
departments, and in community care. I know how important is for front-line nurses
to have mental health supports ready when recovering from traumatic events," said
Kathryn McGarry, MPP Cambridge.
Ontario is also proposing to increase support for probation officers, probation
and parole officers, and bailiffs with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by
putting in place a presumption that the PTSD is work-related. This would expedite
access to benefits, resources and timely treatment.
Due to the nature of their jobs, probation and parole officers and bailiffs often
face traumatic situations, and are more likely to suffer PTSD.
And Ontario is helping Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care carry out research
into preventing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mental health care providers,
and ensuring those with PTSD receive timely support to return to work.
The research will examine workplace events associated with PTSD at psychiatric hospitals,
examine barriers to accessing supports to prevent and alleviate PTSD symptoms and
help build workplace plans to reduce PTSD and encourage psychiatric workers to seek
This is part of Ontario's Research Opportunities Program, which supports projects
that improve occupational health and safety for workers across the province and
create better workplaces for all hard-working people in the province.
Research partnerships between the province and Ontario universities, health care
organizations and research institutes contribute to the development of appropriate
interventions to prevent injuries and illness, and help inform changes to legislation
to improve workplace safety.
Supporting mental health in the workplace is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness
and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a
higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of
thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free
"During the course of our working lives, nurses witness and experience numerous
critical and traumatizing incidents and events. We congratulate the government for
acknowledging this reality by proposing to include nurses in the legislative PTSD
presumption," said Linda Haslam-Stroud RN, President, Ontario Nurses' Association
Dr. Doris Grinspun, Chief Executive officer of the Registered Nurses’ Association
of Ontario (RNAO), said: "We commend the government for recognizing that nurses
are first responders and must be included in legislation granting them access to
treatment for work-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We know on any
given day, RNs, NPs and RPNs face violence and suffer trauma just as police officers
and paramedics do. Nurses represent the largest workforce in the province’s health
system and we believe this is an important step to recognizing and protecting nurses."
- The PTSD presumption currently covers first responders including police officers,
firefighters, paramedics and others.
- PTSD involves clinically significant distress and impairment to functioning, and
the development of certain types of symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic
events. It can include painful flashbacks, nightmares, outbursts, thoughts of suicide
and feelings of worry, guilt or sadness.
- The proposed PTSD presumption would affect up to 140,000 nurses in Ontario.
- Read the report from the 2016 PTSD Summit: Making Progress on Prevention