The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), in conjunction with Local 678, and the Sault Ste. Marie Regional Labour Council held two information sessions about PTSD on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at the Regional Office on Great Northern Rd. The event was facilitated by OPSEU Senior Health and Safety Specialist Terri Aversa.
The information session ran concurrent with the Disability Rights Caucus’ campaign on Invisible Disabilities which seeks to educate the public about disabilities that are not easily visible to the naked eye.
Rina Gulli, the Provincial Human Rights Committee Alternate for Region 6 stated, “Invisible disabilities can mean anything from hearing loss, bipolar disorder, depression, to dyslexia. The focus with this session is to educate the public on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Occupational Stress as well as provide OPSEU members with support in terms of their rights, legal protections, assumptions, terminologies and approaches to psychosocial hazards of workplace stress.”
In 2016, the province introduced the ‘Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act (PTSD)’, thereby amending both the WSIB Act and Labour Act which now covers first responders like Correctional Officers, Youth Workers (including managers) and workers who provide direct health care service in adult institutions and secure youth facilities. The new law recognizes that PTSD is a result of a worker’s employment and links them with WSIB. It similarly includes police, firefighters, emergency dispatchers, paramedics and First Nation Response teams.
Josh Miller, President of Local 678, who represents workers at the Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre, noted that “PTSD is a significant issue for Correctional Service Workers. Recent legislation recognizes PTSD as a workplace injury or illness. This is the first real step in assisting members who are fighting this issue.”
In addition to OPSEU’s contribution, the research behind the presentation was developed in collaboration with the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW), Worker Health and Safety Centre (WHSC), Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario (IAVGO) and Office of the Worker Advisor (OWA).
Attendees to the two sessions held on Wednesday were provided with guides and resources in managing this very important issue for both workers and Health and Safety Committee Members. Other Ministry of Labour guidelines, tip sheets and action plans provided indentified roles of Ontario workers and Ontario employers – as well as terminologies and where to go for further assistance.
“Much work has been undertaken to affect positive legislative, social and cultural change.” Said Gulli. “This event was a first of its kind in Sault Ste. Marie and Region 6, and demonstrated how several professional components came together to bring meaningful dialogue and defined resources to OPSEU members and Ontario workers.”
To access a comprehensive resource ‘Mental Injury Tools for Ontario Workers’, GO HERE
For more information on Bill 163 –GO HERE