A first for Canada, a new psychological health and safety standard has been released to address the specific needs of paramedic service organizations – a group of vital contributors to our health care system that experience some of the highest rates of mental illness in the country. The Honourable Kevin Daniel Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour, announced the new standard earlier this morning at Halton Region Paramedic Headquarters.
Workers in paramedic services face unique health and safety issues on a daily basis such as shift work and extended work days, periods of intense psychological stress or trauma, exposure to contagious or infectious diseases, and challenging work environments such as fire, explosions, and violent situations. All of these issues can impact their mental health and well-being. This made it all the more evident that a standard was needed.
Commissioned by the Paramedic Association of Canada and developed by CSA Group with funding from Ontario’s Occupational Health, Safety and Prevention Innovation Program, the standard offers sector-specific guidance for developing and maintaining a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. It specifically helps paramedic workers and their employers to:
- Raise awareness of associated stigma, self-stigma and harassment;
- Systematically identify sources of stress and psychological hazards; and
- Examine changes and control measures that can be implemented to address those hazards.
The standard is built on leading best practices and research, as well as key guidance and concepts from the 2013 National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, which was championed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and developed collaboratively by the Bureau de normalisation du Québec and CSA Group.
This flexible, unique and targeted standard positions Ontario as a leader in the area of first responder mental health and wellness in Canada – and around the world.
The standard can be downloaded for free at www.csagroup.org/paramedic-standard
- There are more than 40,000 paramedics in Canada.
- The diagnosis of mental disorders among public safety personnel is four times higher than the general population. Paramedics in particular are also more likely to experience all mental disorders, except Alcohol Use Disorder, than some other public safety personnel.
- Research from the Mental Health Commission of Canada revealed that:
- Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of disability claims and 70 per cent of the total costs.
- Of the $51 billion economic cost east year attributed to mental illness in Canada, a staggering $20 billion stems from workplace losses.
- By improving the management of mental health in the workplace, productivity losses can be decreased by as much as 30 per cent.
- The standard, CSA Z1003.1 Psychological Health and Safety in the Paramedic Service Organization, was funded by the Government of Ontario via the Occupational Health, Safety and Prevention Innovation Program.
“The Paramedic Association of Canada is proud to have been a participant in this important initiative for the paramedic community. In Canada, the paramedic service organization faces daunting issues related to mental health. The National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Paramedic Service Organization promotes the maintenance of good mental health and addresses illness as well. The voluntary National Standard recognizes a positive duty for both the individual and the organization. We wish to thank Minister Flynn and the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Occupational Health, Safety and Prevention Innovation Program for supporting this vital work.”
- Pierre Poirier, Executive Director, Paramedic Association of Canada
“CSA Group is pleased to have collaborated with the mental health and paramedic communities on this pivotal standard. Using our recognized consensus-based approach to standards development, this new psychological health and safety standard incorporates best practices, available evidence, and insights from a wide range of stakeholders to offer the paramedic community practical, actionable solutions that can support their mental health and well-being. Ultimately, it’s about better equipping the paramedic services organization to carry out their important role in our valued emergency response system.”
- Mary Cianchetti, President of Standards, CSA Group
“Today marks an important step in the journey of promoting psychological health and safety in the workplace, specifically for paramedic service organizations. Since its launch five years ago, the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard) has been implemented by hundreds of organizations nationally across various sectors and industries. To see the paramedic community adapt the Standard to their specific needs and now champion this journey has been an absolute pleasure to witness and participate in.”
- Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Paramedic Association of Canada
Pierre Poirier, Executive Director
613-836-6581 | [email protected]
David Korvah, Marketing Sector Manager
(216) 524-4990 | [email protected]
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Hélène Côté, Senior Communications Advisor, Public Affairs
613-857-0840 | [email protected]
 Paramedic Association of Canada, Deputation to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, 2016, retrieved from: www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/SECU/meeting-15/evidence
 Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment, “Mental Disorder Symptoms among Public Safety Personnel in Canada,” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 2018, Vol. 63(1) 54-64
 Mental Health Commission of Canada, “Case Study Research Project”, 2015, retrieved from: www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/sites/default/files/mhcc_casestudyinterimresults_en_final_1_0.pdf