There was a rare show of unity in the House of Commons on Thursday as members from all political parties praised Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty's private member's bill calling for a national framework to assist Canadians with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Time ran out on discussion of Bill C-211, however, meaning it will be back before the House in about a week or two for further discussion and a vote. At that point, the bill will either be defeated or it will move to third reading and further study by an all-party committee of MPs.
Bill C-211 calls for the federal government to work with the provinces to provide timely diagnosis and treatment of those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for first responders, such as fire fighters, military personnel, corrections officers, and members of police forces such as the RCMP.
Speaking to his bill, Doherty told the House about the many personal stories he has heard about the plight of the first responder, how their mental health issues are dismissed and how they are accused of faking the illness or told they are weak.
Across the nation there is no law, language, standard of diagnosis, care or treatment, or even terminology that is consistent, he added.
He would like to see the federal minister of health convene a conference with the minister of national defence, the minister of veterans affairs, provincial and territorial government representatives responsible for health and representatives of the medical community and patients' groups.
"The standard of care varies from one province to the next and we have people falling through the cracks," said Doherty.
"Individuals suffering from PTSD have an 80 per cent higher risk of suffering from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug abuse and suicidal thoughts."
A hero in the east should get the same level of care as a hero in the west, he added.
"Let's get this bill to committee so we can discuss and amend if necessary," he told his parliamentary colleagues.
Several MPs spoke afterwards, citing tragedies in their own ridings that touched their hearts.
"Post traumatic stress disorder disproportionately affects public safety officers, indeed the research shows between 10 and 35 per cent of first responders will develop post traumatic stress injuries in their lifetime," said Lloyd Longfield, the Liberal MP representing Guelph, Ont.
"An estimated 70,000 Canadian first responders have already been diagnosed."
Matthew Dube, the Quebec NDP MP for Beloeil-Chambly, Colin Carrie, the Ontario Conservative MP for Oshawa, Sean Fraser, the Nova Scotia Liberal MP for Central Nova, and Murray Rankin, the MP from Victoria and the NDP's house leader, all spoke in support of Bill C-211.