Apr 30 2012
OTTAWA - The head of the Canadian Police Association says post-traumatic stress disorder is a major issue for police, and the RCMP shouldn't believe its current system for treating members afflicted by PTSD is good enough.
Tom Stamatakis said Monday he was disappointed that the RCMP and its commissioner believed the services to members suffering from PTSD were good enough.
Stamatakis said any approach that believes the "status quo is OK is the wrong approach."
The RCMP has reportedly told its members they will now be under provincial health programs, rather than federal oversight through the force. The federal government reportedly will save $25 million by moving the Mounties under the Canada Health Act, leaving their medical coverage to fall under provincial health systems.
Stamatakis said provincial health programs aren't as good as they could be when helping officers suffering from PTSD.
"We're all struggling to modernize provincial legislation . . . to recognize there's a cumulative effect," Stamatakis said.
"PTSD is a real phenomenon in policing."
A recent study from Carleton University found that officers in Canada are facing greater pressures at work that may be taking a greater physical and mental toll on police than previously believed.
The RCMP said that it still offers a number of services to its officers, including counselling "when the member is diagnosed with an operational stress injury," which includes PTSD, as well as hypnotherapy when it is medically approved.
When RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson was asked about PTSD in the force last week, he told reporters he didn't think the Mounties had a systemic issue with PTSD. He also said that he felt the RCMP was managing the risk associated with PTSD fairly well.
"And I think we can always do better but I'm pretty happy with how our member assistance program and our health programs address that," Paulson said.
Stamatakis also said Monday that the CPA, which represents frontline officers across the country, is hoping the government would continue to fund a program that has helped provinces hire new officers.
The Conservatives created the $400-million recruitment fund in 2008. It is set to run out next year, but the CPA is hoping the government finds a way to keep its police funding levels up even though spending is being cut.
"There is a role the federal government can play when it comes to funding policing," Stamatakis said.
Funding to police services and mental-health issues are two topics that will be part of the association's annual lobbying day on Parliament Hill. Officers are to have more than 150 meetings with MPs on Tuesday.