NDP MLA Rachel Notley
Credits: AMBER BRACKEN/QMI AGENCY
That's Rachel Notley's take on Premier Alison Redford's Bill 1, The Workers Compensation Amendment Act, which was tabled as the first order of the day in the 28th Legislative Assembly.
It gives first responders compensation for presumptive post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) "without shouldering the burden of proof."
The act would make Alberta the first province to provide such coverage to firefighters, police, sheriffs and paramedics.
By lifting the burden of proof from the workers, it's a great step for first responders, but the bill doesn't reach others who witness traumatic events in the line of duty, said Notley, the New Democrat MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona.
"It discriminates against a ... huge number of people that need this type of protection -- and that probably happened because they never bothered to consult with anybody before doing it," Notley said, citing social workers, nurses and correctional officers.
"It excludes careworkers like the one we heard about in Camrose," she said, referring to Dianne McClements, who was slain earlier this month, allegedly at the hands of a youth she was taking care of in a provincially funded home.
First responders invited to the legislature hailed the proposed law.
Mike Parker, an EMS worker in Edmonton, said in the past, first responders have found it difficult to prove the kind of psychological injury that accrues over decades.
Edmonton Police Association president Tony Simioni agreed.
"We have fought this battle to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal fees trying to get this (legislation) and the presumptions they're talking about through previous battles and previous challenges with the Workers Compensation Board," he said.
A board member of the Canadian Police Association, he said the CPA is working to get similar presumptive legislation in all the provinces.
"I don't want our members victimized on a second occasion," Simioni said. "It should be a matter of fact that that happened, they shouldn't have to argue it."
Official Opposition leader Danielle Smith of the Wildrose Party said she thought the bill sounds like a good idea, but it was her impression that the Workers Compensation Board actually agreed to its terms in October 2011 and that they began to operate under them in February 2012.