Nurses to rally for inclusion under new B.C. PTSD labour laws

Saskatchewan registered nurses’ union meeting to discuss negotiations impasse in Regina Thursday.
B.C. nurses say they should be included in new labour laws that improve mental health protections for first responders. File / Global News

Hundreds of nurses gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Thursday to protest their exclusion from new labour laws relating to worker mental health.

The province unveiled new legislation last month, which would make Post Trauamtic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disroders “presumptive conditions” linked to specific first responders’ jobs.

LISTEN: Nurses rallying in downtown for inclusion in PTSD legislation

That provision means paramedics, firefighters, police officers, sheriffs and correctional officers would not longer have to prove that they developed the condition while on the job in order to get care and coverage.

READ MORE: Under new rules, first responders in B.C. won’t have to prove PTSD is work-related

Nurses, however, were not included in the legislation — something B.C. Nurses’ Union President Christine Sorensen said is unacceptable.

“We’re extremely disappointed that [Labour Minister Harry Bains] excluded nurses. Other provinces have recognized this across Canada,” she told guest host Jill Bennett on CKNW’s The Jon McComb Show.
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WATCH: PTSD among first responders

PTSD among first responders
PTSD among first responders

Sorensen said she has spoken to Bains, who suggested nurses could be included at a future date, but said that they can’t wait for that.

She pointed to ongoing violence that nurses are facing in the workplace as a key reason why.

“We continue to see about 26 nurses every month reporting to WorkSafe serious injuries related to violence in the workplace. And that’s just not acceptable anymore,” Sorensen said.

READ MORE: Programs in place to help B.C.’s first responders manage PTSD in wake of opioid crisis

She said virtually every nurse has experienced violence on the job, whether they work in acute care, in the community or in residential care.

And she said more often than not, they go right on working — putting them at higher risk for mental health issues.

“They often go home, cry, cry a lot, and then because they’re concerned about their colleagues and their patients, they often return to work,” she said.

“And they’re still suffering the trauma of the violence they’ve experienced.”

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About 500 nurses are in Vancouver right now for the BCNU’s annual convention.