marin - andreOntario ombudsman Andre Marin recommends changes to how OPP treat officers with post-traumatic stress disorder. (Courtesy Ontario Ombudsman's Office)

Officers with the OPP are encouraged by yesterday's ombudsman's report. Spokesman Jim Christie says helping members get the help they need after a traumatic event is the most important issue they have.

"PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is an issue of such magnitude that it can end up in the tragedy of loss of life. I don't think it can end up being more serious than that," he said.

"We've been advocating for a long time for changes to the workplace safety insurance act to allow PTSD to become a presumptive disease. What that means is when one of our members is suffering, they don't have to go through the indignity of appeal after appeal, before the WSIB approves their application," he said.

Superintendent Dave Quigley from the OPP agrees. He says a working group is being created to help implement the recommendations made by the ombudsman, and he hopes it will lead to better services for members in need of help.

"We've come a long way and we're proud of what we're doing, but we know can do better and we want to do better for our officers," he said.

"As the commissioner said today, we really welcome the ombudsman's report. For one thing, it recognizes the tough work that a lot of police officers or all police officers do -- not just in Ontario but across the country -- and it recognizes that some times these officers are human beings and they go through tough times, when faced with traumatic events," he continued. 

For more information:
Ombudsman's report


The OPP's response:
 (ORILLIA, ON) - Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) welcome the release of the Ombudsman of Ontario's report on how the OPP deals with operational stress injuries (OSI) among its members. The OPP strongly believes that education is the key to making progress in this area and recognizes that the report's release will help increase awareness about OSI and broader mental health issues.

       The Ombudsman's report defines 'OSI' as a term used to describe any persistent psychological difficulty that police personnel experience as a result of operational duties, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, addictions, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

       In the spirit of full cooperation, the OPP provided the Office of the Ombudsman with information about: the impact of OSI and PTSD on OPP members, statistical information about mental health issues, background information on OPP programs and supports for employees, as well as facilitating access to OPP members for interviews.

       The OPP appreciates the work undertaken during this 18-month investigation and, now that the final report has been released, will be conducting an in-depth review of all of the Ombudsman's recommendations. The OPP regularly evaluates its programs and practices and will make good use of any relevant findings in the report.

       "The OPP is committed to supporting its workforce and this includes addressing operational stress injuries," says Commissioner Chris Lewis. "I am proud of the efforts of our employees to deliver programs and resources relating to wellness, stress management, and critical or traumatic incidents. But I also acknowledge that, while we continue to make significant progress in this area, we can still do better -- and we will. We owe that to our people. I also believe the report's recommendations may be of benefit to all first response agencies and their employees."

    

The OPPA's response:
OPP Association Welcomes Report on Stress Injuries
The Ontario Provincial Police Association welcomes the Ontario Ombudsman’s report, In the Line of Duty, on the handling of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress injuries.
The OPP Association participated in the Ombudsman’s investigation and supports the recommendations. The Association will work with OPP management and the Ontario government to see them implemented.
The Association has strongly and consistently advocated in favour of supports for members suffering mental health injuries, and for their families. One of its main priorities is the promotion of a healthy and safe work environment for all members.
QUOTES
“Our members—both uniform and civilian—are susceptible to stress injuries due to the unique nature of their jobs. They deserve our full support during these dark times. The OPP Association is pleased that this issue is finally getting serious attention, and we remain committed to getting members (and their families) the supports they need.”
—Jim Christie, President, OPP Association
“We hope that the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and OPP senior command will now better understand the challenges our members face, and support presumptive legislation on PTSD and other stress injuries. No one should suffer because they are caught up in needless bureaucracy. This solution would validate the injury, aid in early diagnosis, and ensure more timely treatment to get our members healthy—and back to work.”
—Jim Christie, President, OPP Association
QUICK FACTS
 The OPP Association represents approximately 9,000 civilian and non-commissioned uniform Members of the Ontario Provincial Police on labour and contractual issues.
 The Association provides health and wellness supports and services for all members, including education and training, regular communications on wellness, and facilitation of access to specialized treatment centres.
 The Association will sit on a working group with OPP management to examine the recommendations in detail and ensure implementation in the best interests of our members. It will also participate in a Ministry of Labour


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