B.C. nurses rally over inclusion in PTSD bill

Nurses want to be part of the post-traumatic stress disorder legislation, as with first responders

Laura Ter Smitte said she’s lost track of the number of times she’s been bitten, punched and spit on while working a shift at University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George.

Ter Smitte said she couldn’t bring herself to take a day off work, however, and leave her co-workers to run the hospital that she said is typically 65 patients over-capacity.

“I have watched my friends and coworkers go through some of the most awful moments of their lives trying to provide care for people.”

Ter Smitte was one of more than 150 nurses to gather outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Thursday to urge the provincial government to include nurses in recent mental health legislation.

BCNU president Christine Sorensen fields questions from reporters after rally in Vancouver. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

Bill M233 – also known as the PTSD bill – was announced in April. If passed, the NDP government would amend the Workers Compensation Act to add post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental injuries to a list of “presumptive conditions,” no longer requiring workers to prove their disease or disorder is work-related.

READ MORE: Union calls for nurses to be included in workers mental health legislation

READ MORE: B.C. first responders to get better mental health support

So far this will apply to firefighters, police, paramedics, sheriffs and correctional officers.

At the rally, BC Nurses Union president Christine Sorensen said WorkSafeBC has reported that an average of 26 nurses a month make claims because of mental or physical injuries, but that Labour Minister Harry Bains has told her there isn’t enough evidence to include nurses across the province.

“Minister Bains, nurses suffering from their work and related trauma is fixable, and we implore your government to do the right thing,” Sorensen told the crowd.

Laura Ter Smitte has been a nurse for eight years in Prince George. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

Ter Smitte told Black Press Media she’s made several claims to WorkSafeBC in the past and that it was bittersweet to hear that the bill include her or her colleagues.

“I’m very, very, very happy that first responders are getting this – I have friends that are corrections officers, my brother is a sheriff,” she said. “I have a lot of friends that are police officers.

“However, nurses suffer the same trauma, not just in our emergency departments… They suffer the same amount of violence, and we see a lot of the same, awful tragedies as all of the other first responders.”

The labour ministry has since said the bill would consider other occupations in the future, but Sorensen wants to know when.

In the meantime, Ter Smitte said she doesn’t question her decision to go to work each day in a career she described as a passion “that chooses us.”

“We don’t go to work and cease to be nurses when we leave work – it’s part of our culture, it’s part of who we are. It’s shaped who I am,” she said.

“I love my job, I go to work every day because I love my job, and I’ll continue to do my job regardless of how many extra patients we have and how many times I get beat up.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Saturday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Revelstoke Art Gallery hosts exhibition in honour of Pat Wells

Barbara Maye Special to the Review Stone Carving and Revelstoke have a… Continue reading

Wildfires in Mt. Revelstoke National Park not currently a threat to people or assets

Since the lightning storm on Tuesday there have been three fires on… Continue reading

UPDATE: Revelstoke RCMP looking for information on missing person John Cunliffe

The Revelstoke Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment is continuing to ask for… Continue reading

UPDATED: Mount Eneas fire grows to 1,374 hectares

Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen issues evac alerts for properties in Area F.

BC Wildfire update on Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

Wildfire crews working to strengthen line around fire near Summerland

The Mount Conkle wildfire is 90 per cent guarded

Open water swimming from B.C. to Washington in 24 hours

The swim will take a full day, meaning Susan Simmons will be swimming in the black of night

Update: Wildfire near West Kelowna mapped at 10 hectares

The wildfire near Glenrosa is considered out of control

Okanagan Mountain Park fire shows no growth overnight

The wildfire, also called Goode’s Creek wildfire, continues to burn near Kelowna

Wildfire near Peachland shows no growth overnight

Fire chief Dennis Craig said wind was blowing the fire away from homes

Cigarette packs with graphic images, blunt warnings are effective: focus groups

Warnings considered effective flag ailments smoking can cause, like colorectal and stomach cancers

Canada’s title hopes quashed at Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco

On the men’s side, Canada was eliminated in the round of 16 as they were shut out by Argentina 28-0

‘We are doing the right thing:’ Protesters dig in at anti-pipeline camp

B.C. Supreme Court ruled in March that both the camp and a nearby watch house could remain in place

Most Read