North Bay police reject link between tax hike, officers on leave with PTSD
The North Bay Police Service said Thursday that officers on leave with PTSD are not behind recent municipal tax increases.
Police sent the news release after a local media report quoted a city councillor who said 2.5 per cent of the recent 3.2 per cent tax hike was caused by officers on leave being treated for PTSD.
“This statement is inaccurate,” police said.
“The increase to the North Bay Police Service is the result of the necessary hiring of new officers in 2022 and 2023, the creation of new positions internally that support frontline officers during criminal investigations, and price inflation for necessary goods such as fuel, uniforms, training and insurance,” police spokesperson David Woolley told CTV News in an email.
“It is not the result of officers being off work receiving treatment for PTSD.”
While 18 per cent of sworn officers in North Bay are off work while they receive treatment for PTSD, that is not the highest rate in Ontario, as the report said.
“This is a large number of officers away from work, but it is not the highest rate in the province,” the media release said.
“Many other police services in Ontario have a high rate of officers off work receiving treatment for PTSD.”
Police forces across Ontario saw a significant increase officers being off work for PTSD since 2016, when the province passed the Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder).
For the first time in Ontario, the Act required the province to assume a first-responder with PTSD acquired it as a result of job-related stress.
“While staffing challenges have arisen since the passage of the Act … ultimately this is a positive development as it ensures officers are receiving treatment for PTSD that prior to the passage of the Act may have gone untreated,” North Bay Police said.
To help address the issue, police hired a wellness navigator in 2023 who will be responsible “for ensuring members receive appropriate mental and physical health supports while on- and off-duty.
“The position will also chart the implementation of the service’s employee health and well-being plan, which was approved in 2021. We believe these initiatives will help ensure resilience among our sworn officers and civilian members.”
Vincent Corrente, president of the North Bay Police Association, said many people don’t realize the level of stress police routinely face.
“Our members may be exposed to more trauma over a week than many residents of this city will see in a lifetime,” Corrente is quoted as saying in the release.
“Unfortunately, job-related trauma is cumulative and some of our members reach their breaking point where they need to step away to get the appropriate treatment.”
“Ensuring that our members are healthy and supported as they work to ensure the safety of the people of North Bay remains my top priority,” North Bay Chief of Police Scott Tod said in the release.
“It is disappointing and disheartening to see incorrect statements about our members who are receiving treatment for PTSD become part of the public conversation. These factually inaccurate statements only further the stigma around mental health.”
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