Pam Damoff

Your member of parliament for

Oakville North-Burlington

Pam Damoff

Your member of parliament for

Oakville North-Burlington


Canada’s Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries for First Responders

Public safety officers often put their own safety at risk to protect their communities. Their work can expose them to traumatic events, and they deserve effective mental health supports so that they can remain strong and healthy and can continue to keep Canadians safe.

Today, Pam Damoff, Member of Parliament for Oakville North-Burlington and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, joined Oakville and Burlington public safety officers and first responders at Oakville Fire Station 9 in Oakville to announce the launch of the federal government’s Action Plan on post-traumatic stress injuries for first responders, called Supporting Canada’s Public Safety Personnel: An Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries.

“The work of public safety officers and first responders is essential to the safety of Canadians, and we have a duty to ensure their mental well-being. Public safety officers, and those who work alongside them, do work that can greatly impact their mental health. They are facing a crisis and we have a duty to support them.”Pam Damoff, Member of ParliamentParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

The Action Plan is accompanied by $40 million in funding that includes $10 million for a pilot study with the RCMP, resources for rural and remote services and 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).

Public safety officers, first responders and those who work alongside them are susceptible to a host of mental health issues as a result of their jobs. Estimates indicate that between 10 and 35 percent of first responders, from paramedics to prison guards will develop PTSD, impacting their work, co-workers, families and the community. Public safety officers are more likely to suffer from depression and substance abuse and are more far more likely to commit suicide than people in other professions.  A study published in 2016 found that approximately 70,000 police officers, firefighters and paramedics in Canada had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“On behalf of Halton Region Paramedics, we are pleased with the recent announcement of the Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries. Investments in mental health are important, and we were pleased to be part of the strategy formation and now the roll out of the plan.”Greg SageChief of Halton Paramedic Services

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 Action Plan will support research, prevention, early intervention, stigma-reduction, care and treatment for all types of public safety personnel across the country.   It will explore new ways to address the mental wellness of first responders and others who perform front-line duties.  It is estimated that more than 200,000 Canadians work in these professions.

“PTSD is one of the most life-altering wounds a person can experience, though it doesn’t leave visible scar. The recent announcement of the federal strategy action plan on post-traumatic stress injuries is a tremendous step to support all first responders who are affected by mental health issues related to PTSD. On behalf of the men and women of the Burlington Fire Department, thank you!”Karen RocheDeputy Fire Chief, Burlington Fire

In October 2016, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security tabled its first unanimous report in 10 years, entitled Healthy Minds, Safe Communities: Supporting our Public Safety Officers through a national strategy for operational stress injuries following a motion from MP Damoff to study the issue.  The all-party committee called for a national strategy on PTSD and operational stress injuries and for the creation of a Canadian Institute for Public Safety Officer Health Research, (which has since been established at the University of Regina) to develop policies and share research on prevention, screening, education, intervention and treatment nationally.

“When it comes to addressing the mental health needs of those who protect us, there is always much more that we can do together. With this Action Plan we are saying, in no uncertain terms, that we will not wave off symptoms and diagnoses as simply part of the job. It will lay the foundation for better, more accessible treatments.“The Honourable Ralph GoodaleMinister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness

The traumatic events witnessed on a daily basis by first responders and public safety officers can have very real, lasting and sometimes devastating effects on their lives and the lives of their families and friends. “This is an issue that I have been deeply committed to throughout my tenure as a Member of Parliament,” said MP Damoff. “The federal government is providing national leadership to help address the mental health of our public safety officers and first responders.  I am proud of our government for taking action on this crucial file.”

A link to the plan and supporting documents follows: