After learning of yet another Mountie’s suicide, a Conservative MP issued an emotional plea to senators this week to quickly pass his private member’s bill that would establish a national strategy to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In a message posted to YouTube, B.C. MP Todd Doherty said his heart broke after receiving word a Saskatchewan RCMP member took his own life on Tuesday.
“The reality is we continue to lose people. We continue to lose the fight. How many more lives do we have to lose?” Doherty said.
Doherty’s bill, introduced in January 2016, received unanimous support from MPs when they passed it on June 16. Two days later, the bill was read for the first time in the Senate. There’s no word on when it will be studied at the Senate’s social affairs committee, which is busy looking at the topic of palliative care.
Noting how the RCMP corporal’s death followed the suicide of a New Brunswick paramedic, Doherty issued a challenge to his colleagues in the Senate.
“Wherever C-211 is, dig it up and let’s get going. We’re back in Ottawa next week. Let’s get going. Enough is enough,” he says in the video recorded in his constituency office.
In mandate letters to his ministers of health and public safety, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked them to come up with a national action plan to address post-traumatic stress disorders among public safety workers.
The ministers of defence and veterans affairs have also been instructed to develop a suicide prevention strategy for current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
When reached by CBC News on Friday, Doherty said while he was initially elated at his bill passing in the House of Commons, that feeling has changed.
“I felt like we did nothing more than create more hope,” he said before apologizing for the emotion in his voice.
Earlier this year, the federal government funded Canada’s first national survey looking at operational stress injuries. The research, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, suggests first responders such as police, paramedics, firefighters and 911 operators are much more likely to develop a mental disorder than the general population.