Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

Report of the committee

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has the honour to present its

EIGHTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-211, An Act respecting a federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, May 3, 2018, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

GWEN BONIFACE

Chair

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OBSERVATIONS
to the EIGHTEENTH REPORT Report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (Bill C-211)

• The bill’s sponsor, Todd Doherty, MP (Cariboo—Prince George), told your committee that the exclusion of various occupations from the preamble to the bill was an accidental oversight and that he had intended to be as inclusive as possible. Your committee shares Mr. Doherty’s view that the conference and federal framework should be as inclusive as possible.

• Your committee would like to ensure that health care providers and individuals in other high-stress occupations be asked to participate in developing the federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder that is proposed in the bill. Your committee wishes to emphasize that the words “in particular” in the fourth paragraph of the bill’s preamble indicate that the conference and the federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder should include not only first responders, firefighters, military personnel, corrections officers and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but also a wide range of occupations whose members are affected by post-traumatic stress and related problems, including nurses, psychologists and other health care providers and first responders.

• Your committee shares the concern expressed by officials from the Canadian Psychological Association regarding clause 3(b)(i) that addresses the development of guidelines. This clause states that the conference aiming to establish a federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder focus, among other topics, on “the establishment of guidelines regarding the diagnosis, treatment and management of post-traumatic stress disorder.” Representatives of the Canadian Psychological Association stated that developing guidelines in this regard is the responsibility of health professionals and their associations, accreditors and regulators, not the government. Your committee therefore suggests that the conference on the federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder promote the establishment and dissemination of guidelines, rather than developing them as such, as recommended by the Canadian Psychological Association.

• Your committee would like to ensure that the full range of mental health conditions obtained from high-stress occupations are considered in the development of the federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder that is proposed in the bill. Your committee therefore advises that the conference on the federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder consider the use of the term “operational stress injury.” This term includes post-traumatic stress disorder, but also includes conditions like occupation-linked depression, anxiety disorders, adjustment disorder and the full range of substance disorders that people may face as a result of being in a high-stress work environment.

• Your committee is concerned that the current wording of Bill C-211 could imply that the national framework on post-traumatic stress disorder should only focus on cases that manifest as a direct consequence of the demands of their occupation. However, many cases of work-related cases of post-traumatic stress disorder are directly linked to cases of sexual misconduct and harassment. Your committee therefore suggests that the conference on the federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder include these cases in its development of the national framework.