The number of RCMP officers disabled while on duty is expected to almost double in less than 15 years, leading to a dramatic spike in the cost of their compensation fund, according to an internal report.
The report, recently posted on the RCMP’s website, warns that the national police force must do more to better understand the causes of disability conditions, to mitigate risk and to improve occupational health and safety policies and practices.
“Understanding and addressing work-related injuries specific to the RCMP will ultimately contribute to prevention of work-related injuries that cause disabilities,” the report warns.
An evaluation of the program designed to compensate Mounties who suffer mental and physical injuries on the job projects that the case load will nearly double from 11,344 members in 2013-2014 to 19,053 by 2027-2028.
Costs of administering the compensation fund are expected to triple to $382 million from the current $130 million.
PTSD, hearing problems
The disability compensation fund is administered by Veterans Affairs Canada on behalf of the RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces, and tinnitus, hearing loss and post-traumatic stress disorder have ranked as the top conditions for clients in the past five years.
The projections are based on actuarial reports and VAC reports that forecast a growing caseload, though it's not clear exactly what is driving the dramatic rise.
By 2027-28, the number of Mounties receiving a disability pension will almost double to reach about 19,000, which is the approximate number of RCMP members currently serving in the force.
'While the RCMP makes every effort to provide our members with a safe work environment, illness or death can unfortunately occur as a consequence of our members performing their duties' - Cpl. Laurence Trottier
"The increase may be explained, in part, by a higher level of awareness among our members of the importance of putting their health first and dealing with injuries and illness - whether physical or mental - as early as necessary,” Cpl. Laurence Trottier told CBC News.
”Policing is a dangerous profession. While the RCMP makes every effort to provide our members with a safe work environment, illness or death can unfortunately occur as a consequence of our members performing their duties."
Trottier said the RCMP will "carefully monitor" the number of disability pension claims to determine if the transfer payment is sufficient, but noted that increased payments would not affect the force’s operational policing budget.
The program was introduced in 1959 to provide financial and health care assistance to regular and civilian RCMP members or their families when an injury, illness or death leads to a loss of quality of life.