B.C. Government eliminates barriers to care for emergency dispatchers and call takers

Labour Minister Harry Bains and Operations team member Shari Thomas
Labour Minister Harry Bains and Operations team member Shari Thomas Photo: Province of B.C.

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains was at E-Comm’s Lower Mainland Emergency Communications Centre in April to announce legislative changes providing emergency dispatchers and call takers with easier access to workers’ compensation for mental health disorders stemming from work-related trauma.

“These changes to the Mental Disorder Presumption Regulation are about fairness and support for workers who experience higher-than-average mental harm due to the jobs they do on behalf of British Columbians,” said Minster Bains.

“This is good news for B.C.’s emergency call-takers and dispatchers,” added E-Comm President and CEO Oliver Grüter-Andrew. “There is no doubt that, day in and day out, our people can experience high levels of emotional stress, as they work to save lives and support police and firefighters. Call takers and dispatchers are the first contact for people experiencing trauma which can be often traumatic for them, as well.”

“There is no doubt that, day in and day out, our people can experience high levels of emotional stress, as they work to save lives and support police and firefighters. Call takers and dispatchers are the first contact for people experiencing trauma which can be often traumatic for them, as well.”

Oliver Grüter-Andrew,
E-Comm president and CEO

In 2018, the B.C. Government amended the Workers Compensation Act to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental-health disorders to the list of illnesses recognized as being associated with certain professions–specifically police, firefighters, paramedics, sheriffs and correctional officers. This recognition fast tracks the claims process to access support and compensation for those illnesses following a formal diagnosis.

Emergency dispatchers, whose duties include the dispatch of firefighters, police officers and ambulance services, as well as 9-1-1 call takers who answer direct calls from the public will now be covered under these changes.