Canada's political parties pledge support for RCMP members with PTSD
Promises follows campaign by high-profile police spokesperson who says help was too slow
RCMP Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound was hoping to make post-traumatic stress disorder among Mounties an election issue.
Now, the five major national parties have reacted to her call for change after she revealed her personal struggle with PTSD — and an RCMP support system she describes as "broken" and "in crisis."
The parties have pledged to do more to make sure Mounties with mental health issues arising from trauma at work get more help in the future.
Pound, the former high-profile spokesperson for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team during the height of gang killings in B.C., mysteriously vanished from the spotlight in 2017.
She has now emerged as the face of PTSD, revealing it took her almost two years to get the therapeutic help she needed.
"I can absolutely say that we are in crisis and it's only going to get worse," predicted Pound in an exclusive interview with CBC News.
She called on campaigning politicians to address the issue.
"We need money to go towards resources. There needs to be more support," said Pound. "That means doctors, therapists, psychologists, so we're not backlogged."
The country's five political parties, in the final days of the election campaign, say they've heard her plea.
The Green Party was the first to respond, promising consultation and quick action.
"Greens believe police officers, soldiers and all first responders like all our society are not being provided with adequate care," says the party in an email to the CBC.
The Greens say they would work with all affected parties and medical professionals to develop a National Health Strategy, "that includes special measures for first responders and follow-up with the resources [to] make it happen."
The NDP weighed in next, also promising to work with first responders "to increase the targeted mental health supports available for RCMP members and others who face particular mental health challenges due to the nature of their work."
The Peoples Party of Canada says it has a "concrete plan" to ensure PTSD sufferers receive the care and support they need.
"RCMP health services programs ... are clearly not enough," writes the PPC. It vows to take federal money earmarked for research into PTSD and redirect it "to provide frontline services with a goal to ... reduce wait times for all first responders."
The Liberals, who committed $21.4 million in their 2018 federal budget to support Mounties with PTSD over the next five years, admits "we need to do more."
"Everything we have built and are implementing right now ... should continue and we have the record and commitment to do just that," states the party in an email.
"And if we are re-elected, we will continue the job side-by-side with the RCMP members, employees and their families."
The Conservative Party of Canada also responded.
"Conservatives proudly stand up for hard-working RCMP officers across the country," wrote Daniel Schow, press secretary to Leader Andrew Scheer.
"We will certainly work to ensure that our police heroes have access to the mental health resources they deserve."
Jennifer Pound welcomes the promises — but says she'll hold politicians to account.
"I am hopeful that all parties will recognize the crisis," says Pound, "And their campaign pledges will translate into real government action for change in 2019."
With files from Dan Burritt