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Letter from President MacLean re: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Legislation

Dear NSGEU member,

The NSGEU represents a range of workers who are emergency responders: police, social workers, correctional workers, firefighters, Registered Nurses and more. These are the people you need by your side in a time of crisis.

The very nature of their work makes these workers vulnerable to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Unfortunately, these emergency responders aren’t receiving the supports they need when they develop PTSD as a result of their working environment and the calls they respond to.

Earlier today, Premier McNeil introduced PTSD legislation. If passed, this legislation would mean emergency response workers with PTSD will be presumed to have become ill because of the work they do – they would be covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The legislation covers corrections officers, firefighters, nurses, paramedics, police officers and other workers in a health-services occupation who may be prescribed by the regulations. I worked with Premier McNeil on this legislation and was successful in getting him to expand his initial list of who would be covered, however, there is more work to be done.

While the introduction of this Bill appears to be a very good move on behalf of Government, there’s one question I can’t stop asking myself: is this a crass political move the morning before an election call? Or is it truly a move to help workers going through some of the toughest mental anguish anyone can imagine? Only one thing will illustrate the difference – if it passes.

To see it introduced now – at the last minute before an election – calls the Government’s sincerity into question. This Government had three years to bring forward legislation and didn’t.

I won’t allow the NSGEU to be used as a pawn in political gamesmanship; we have all been manipulated and dictated to enough over the past three and a half years.

That’s why I will thank the Premier for the Bill’s introduction, but I will hold any applause for when these protections are strengthened and made law. Simply put, workers who suffer from PTSD deserve more than Stephen McNeil merely announcing his intentions on the eve of an election.

If the election is called this weekend and this legislation dies on the floor of the Legislature, I will be calling on all political parties to commit to broadly consulting on and introducing PTSD legislation in their first legislative session.

In solidarity,

Jason MacLean

President

NSGEU

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