What started as a fairly civil back-and-forth in the House of Assembly ended in political sniping between Opposition Leader Paul Davis and Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce.
Davis was asking about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) coverage for first responders at the start of question period.
“I ask the minister responsible for Workplace NL to update this House on the department’s progress on occupational stress injury presumptive coverage for first responders in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Davis said.
He noted that Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scoita have all passed some form of measure that presumes that if a first-responder develops PTSD, it’s related to their work, and therefore covered by WorkplaceNL insurance.
Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh, who is responsible for Workplace NL, responded by saying the government is working on it.
“We are actively pursuing improvements to the policy around PTSD and mental health. Mr. Speaker, as I stand here and talk today — earlier today I was talking to my staff, we’re arranging a meeting with interested groups,” she said.
When Davis asked if the government will do a jurisdictional scan to see what the national standard is, Gambin-Walsh said the government would do that.
But by Davis’s third question, Joyce jumped in.
“I say to the honourable Member I’ve been engaged with Fire and Emergency Services and a lot of people on the front lines through the Fire and Emergency Services since we took office back in 2015,” Joyce said.
He pointed out that the Liberal government passed presumptive cancer coverage for first responders.
“I say to the Leader of the Opposition, you had 12 years to bring (presumptive cancer coverage) in. You were actually the minister who was responsible and wouldn’t bring it in,” Joyce said.
The discussion got more heated from there, until eventually the Tories shifted gears, and MHA Keith Hutchings started asking questions about electricity transmission lines.