In February, the province of Ontario proposed legislation
under which firefighters and other first responders will no
longer have to prove that post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) is job-related;. PTSD will be presumed to be an
occupational disease, making it easier to claim workers
Alberta and Manitoba have similar presumptive legislation,
and New Brunswick is considering introducing a bill.
Firefighter unions lobbied hard for presumptive legislation
for PTSD while chief’s associations and many fire
departments have been working to bring mental-health
programs into the halls.
The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs launched the fire service
version of Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) – the
Canadian military’s mental wellness and resilience program –
in February. R2MR is being rolled out in Alberta too and
already, after some social media postings, there is interest
The R2MR train-the-trainer program is taught by experts
from the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The trainers
then teach the program in their fire departments or
The eight-hour R2MR leadership program teaches chief fire
officers to recognize symptoms of mental illness – anxiety,
depression, substance abuse – and provides the language
and tools to help firefighters experiencing challenges.
A shorter, four-hour program for front-line personnel teaches
some basics so that everyone in a department uses similar
language and can recognize when a colleague needs help.
Laura King is the editor of Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter magazines (www.firefightingincanada.com), Canada’s premier fire-service journals. Contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @fireincanada