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Correctional workers suffering from PTSD need Ottawa’s help: union

Ottawa must do more to help correctional officers suffering from PTSD, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg

OTTAWA – The union representing Canada’s correctional officers wants Ottawa to establish a national treatment centre to help prison staff suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

READ MORE: Emergency workers at higher risk for mental health disorders: survey

Jason Godin, the national president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, says his members are “forgotten-about first responders” whose ongoing mental health is vital to the interests of the federal government.

Last fall, the House of Commons public safety committee reported that as many as 35 per cent of first responders – from paramedics to prison guards – will develop symptoms of PTSD as a result of their jobs.

Joanne Rutley, who works at the maximum-security Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont., says the condition has left her on leave from her job since May.

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Rutley, 42, says she has been involved in a number of serious incidents, including a fatal shooting in 2011, leaving her with symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked the public safety and health ministers to work with the provinces and territories on a co-ordinated national plan on post-traumatic stress disorder among emergency personnel.

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