Alberta public safety staff, including RCMP officers, will be getting a strong push from municipalities for better mental-health supports.
Alberta Municipalities, formerly known as the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, passed a resolution on Nov. 18 to advocate for better mental-health supports for public safety staff.
St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron, who is now president of Alberta Municipalities, said when it comes to dealing with the mental health of first responders and public safety staff, she would like to hear about what they want.
“I don't have the solution for this one. I think it's recognized that they are at risk of mental-health issues,” Heron said.
“You can throw money at it and give them support and counselling services and maybe that’s all that they need. So I would actually have to ask them what they need. But it's obviously an issue,” Heron said.
Fort Saskatchewan presented the motion at the recent conference and Coun. Jibs Abitoye said public safety staff need more mental-health supports to do their jobs.
“Public safety personnel are at increased risk of developing psychological injuries due to the nature of their work, and they include police, firefighters, paramedics, among others,” Abitoye said.
Some 44.5 per cent meet the criteria for one or more mental disorders, Abitoye said, while 23.2 have symptoms of PTSD.
“Now in contrast to the general populace, that's about one to 3.5 per cent. That’s a big difference,” Abitoye said.
The councillor said municipalities employ paramedics, firefighters, and RCMP officers, and get community safety benefits from a mentally healthy and resilient workforce.
A 2016 study from the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment found that 75 per cent of public safety organizations who reported having the mental-health program increase failed to meet the basic standard of programs, Abitoye said.