Town looks to expand PTSD coverage

Drayton Valley’s efforts to have Community Peace Officers eligible for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder coverage under the Worker’s Compensation Act have not resulted in the outcome council was hoping for.

Cody Rossing, the Manager of Enforcement Services and Emergency Management, gave council an update about their progress with the matter at the May 13 council meeting.

Rossing told council that administration had put forward a report in January of 2023 outlining that CPOs do not have presumptive coverage for PTSD. However, all other first responders do. According to WCB Alberta, presumptive coverage means that if someone presents with all of the criteria and are diagnosed with PTSD, WCB will presume it stems from a work-related incident unless otherwise proven.

Currently, if a CPO is diagnosed with the condition, they have to go through the process of proving that it is work related, as WCB only covers work related issues.

To address the issue, council asked administration to put together a resolution package for Alberta Municipalities (AM). As part of the submission requirements, the Town needed another municipality to second the motion.

The City of Edmonton fulfilled that obligation, and Rossing says they are the second largest employer of CPOs in Alberta.

Once the submission was made, councillor Colin Clarke presented the motion at the annual AM convention in September 2023. The motion passed, so AM passed the letter and resolution on to the Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Trade, Matt Jones.

Jones responded to the request in December 2023, stating that WCB only gives presumptive coverage to peace officers who have been appointed as peace officers under Section 7 of the Peace Officer Act who are authorized by that appointment to use the title “sheriff”.

“Only sheriffs are eligible for the psychological injury and PTSD presumptions under WCA,” says Jones in his letter.

However, he says CPOs coverage is available to all workers through the regular claim process at WCB, though acceptance of the claim is at the discretion of WCB.

“At this time, no changes to the WCA or regulations are being considered. However, your suggestion has been noted and will help inform future legislation review,” says Jones.

“So, it’s on their radar,” says Rossing. “But at this time they won’t really be doing anything with it.”

He says AM met in April 2024 to work out what their next steps will be, but Rossing hadn’t received an update from them by the time of the council meeting.

Rossing recommended to council that they continue to advocate for the changes in the legislation. He says without those changes there is a possibility that a CPO may not get the timely support they need, which could have serious impacts on their day-to-day life and affect their job performance.

Council directed administration to bring the issue to the attention of Alberta Counsel, the lobbyist group the Town is currently working with. Rossing will also be bringing the issue to Brazeau County Council in the hopes they can reach out to Rural Municipalities of Alberta to help advocate for the changes.

Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Drayton Valley and District Free Press