Canada needs a national framework for people suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) said Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Todd Doherty.
“We need to be able to provide support as well as treatment for first responders or military personnel so they can get the help they need,” Doherty said after he tabled a private member’s bill for the national framework in the House of Commons Thursday.
He acknowledged there are many local, provincial and federal organizations doing “incredible” work, but said he’s calling for a nationally co-ordinated effort on the problem.
The bill is something Doherty has been working on for more than a year.
Leading up to the federal election last October, he had discussions with local firefighters, police officers, corrections workers, paramedics and veterans who shared their personal stories.
“You hear of firefighters who attend a car accident or house fire where victims have perished, or the police officer who acts on a domestic call where there are crimes against children,” Doherty said. “It wears on people”
The Tema Conter Memorial Trust, an organization dedicated to providing support for people dealing with operational stress and PTSD, has a ticker on its website indicating three first responders and one military personnel have already died by suicide in 2016.
In 2015, the ticker indicates 39 first responders and 12 military personnel died by suicide.
“We need treatment for people to prevent another unnecessary death,” Doherty said.
Earlier this month Simon Fraser University announced it is launching a program for first responders to manage PTSD through its continuing studies department beginning in the fall.
It will be the first of its kind in Canada.
The course will train those on the front lines of Canadian emergency and military services to protect themselves from the impact of workplace trauma.
Taught by active and retired first responders and related professionals, the program will provide police, fire, ambulance and military personnel with the specialized knowledge and skills they need to mitigate the effects of trauma before, during and after an incident occurs.
The program was developed in partnership with The Tema Conter Memorial Trust.
Doherty said so far his bill has been met with positive support and is the first step in moving forward to support PTSD sufferers.
“For me these people are super heroes,” he added. “They’re the ones who run toward danger when most of us run in the opposite direction.”