Government of Canada Launches Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries

Public safety personnel put their lives on the line daily to keep others safe. The nature of that work exposes them to tough and traumatic events, which can take a toll. The Government of Canada is committed to providing national leadership to support the mental health of public safety personnel, by providing coordination, facilitating collaboration, sharing best practices and funding cutting-edge research. We must ensure that our front-line personnel remain strong and healthy so they can continue to keep Canadians safe.

Today, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, and the Minister of Health, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, announced the release of Supporting Canada’s Public Safety Personnel: An Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries.

The Action Plan was developed based on consultations with public safety organizations, other levels of government, academia, union representatives, mental health professionals and non-governmental organizations. The plan will support research, prevention, early intervention, stigma-reduction, care and treatment for all types of public safety personnel, all across the country.

Quotes

“We must do a better job of addressing post-traumatic stress injuries and the mental wellness of public safety officers. The Government of Canada is providing national leadership to help address the mental health needs of those who keep us safe. I sincerely thank all those that have collaborated on the action plan, especially those on the front lines.”

– The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“We have laid a solid groundwork to support Canadian public safety personnel. We are working to better address the unique stresses and mental health challenges that front-line workers can face through exposure to traumatic events. This action plan signals the importance of improving our understanding of post-traumatic stress injuries through research, and of working together to help this dedicated community raise awareness, improve resiliency, fight stigma and improve the lives of all affected by post-traumatic stress.”

– The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health

The Paramedic Chiefs of Canada (PCC) is highly appreciative and applauds the Government of Canada for the commitment that has led to the development of this critically important Action Plan on Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI). In Canada, Public Safety Personnel throughout our communities provide protection, safety and save countless lives every day. In doing so these individual are disproportionately affected and suffer with post-traumatic stress Injuries. This action plan recognizes the needs and provides commitment that will ultimately lead to evidence based actions pertaining to the prevention, intervention and supportive care needed to protect the wellbeing of our Public Safety Personnel.  We wish to thank Minister Goodale and Public Safety Canada for supporting this vital work.”

– Randy Mellow, President, Paramedic Chiefs of Canada

“In addition to the general workplace stressors that affect everyone, police personnel are exposed to a unique and difficult set of job-related hazards. It is essential to change how we think, prevent, treat and respond to mental health and wellness concerns within policing and the broader first responder community. The mental health and safety of police personnel and other first responders has long been a priority for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP). The CACP commends the federal government for acknowledging the risk and potentially devastating impacts of PTSI on first responders, and for articulating an action plan to address the issues. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the consultation process and look forward to working with the government to facilitate implementation and begin to put these plans into action.”

– Chief Constable Adam Palmer, President, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

“The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs commends the Government of Canada for taking action to address the mental health crisis both at the front line of public safety and for the communities we serve. This action plan, the efforts to align all levels of government; the recently announced suicide prevention service; the micro-investments in resilience training; the Federal Framework on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; the funds committed and process being developed to ensure rapid and meaningful use of research levers to help first responders; the investment in internet cognitive behavioural therapy; and funds for knowledge mobilization are the building blocks needed to make a real change for the front line.”

– Fire Chief Ken Block, President, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and Edmonton Fire Chief

Canada’s Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries is a testament to the power of collaboration. As part of the new National Research Consortium on PTSI among public safety personnel between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) serves as the Knowledge Exchange Hub – relying upon the best contemporary research evidence to help current and former public safety personnel, their leaders, and their families to maintain and improve their mental health and well-being. Guided by the Action Plan and working collaboratively with government, the CIPSRT Public Safety Steering Committee, and other partner agencies, CIPSRT is driving better mental health outcomes for Canada’s public safety personnel.”

– Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, Ph.D., R.D. Psych., Scientific Director, Canadian Institute of Public Safety Research and Treatment at the University of Regina

“The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is grateful to the Government of Canada and to Ministers Goodale and Petitpas Taylor for today’s announcement of an Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries. PTSI has lurked in the shadows of the fire service for too long and has taken a huge toll on fire fighters and their families. This issue is a priority for our union and the Canadian Government’s ongoing commitment to provide resources and assistance to those affected complements our efforts greatly. On behalf of our members in Canada, the IAFF also would like to acknowledge the Government of Canada for including us as key stakeholders during the development of this important initiative.”

– Harold A. Schaitberger, General President, International Association of Fire Fighters

“Our community is deeply concerned about the well-being of paramedics. They are exposed to emotional stressors on a daily basis, be it the death of a family member or injuries to children. We hurt. The national Action Plan is an excellent initiative that first and foremost recognizes that there is problem that requires a societal response. Congratulations to the federal government for their commitment to the well-being of paramedics.”

– Pierre Poirier, Executive Director, President, Paramedic Association of Canada

“There’s no doubt front-line police personnel are disproportionately affected by mental health challenges, not just as a result of the work they do, but also from the stress and anxiety caused by significant organizational issues, including staffing and lack of resources, which have a long-term impact. Police associations have been successful in securing presumptive legislation, and bargaining increased mental health benefits into collective agreements, but having the federal government play a leadership role will help coordinate these efforts and ensure that the health and well-being of our members is front and centre.”

– Tom Stamatakis, Canadian Police Association

Quick Facts

  • Public safety personnel is a term that broadly encompasses front-line personnel who ensure the safety and security of Canadians across all jurisdictions. Examples can include: Tri-Services (police – including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, firefighters, and paramedics), correctional employees, border services personnel, operational and intelligence personnel, search and rescue personnel, Indigenous emergency managers, and dispatch personnel.
  • The Government of Canada is investing $20 million over five years to support a new National Research Consortium on PTSI among public safety personnel between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) of which $11 million in grant funding has already been announced.
  • The Government is investing $10 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, for an Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy pilot to provide greater access to care and treatment for public safety personnel, especially in rural and remote areas.
  • The Government is also investing $10 million toward a longitudinal study of the mental health of RCMP new recruits that will help develop appropriate mental wellness and remedial strategies for the Force and other emergency response organizations.
  • Public Safety Canada launched the Memorial Grant Program in 2018 which recognizes the service and sacrifice of first responders who have died as a direct result of carrying out their duties, including death resulting from an operational stress injury.

For more information please visit: Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada