Nova Scotia

Public inquiry recommended for Halifax police who alleged PTSD discrimination

A human rights commission officer says the complexity of the police officers' complaints and the far-reaching consequences of any decision led to the recommendation for a public board of inquiry.

At least 2 police officers say they were discriminated against because of their diagnosis

Const. Mark Long has been a police officer for more than 15 years. He says when he was diagnosed with PTSD, the Halifax police cut off his pay. (Dalhousie University)

An officer with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has recommended that allegations of discrimination against the Halifax Regional Police by officers with PTSD should be fast-tracked to a public board of inquiry, according to documents obtained by CBC News.

"This matter is being directly referred without investigation or an investigation report," reads a letter from the officer to the parties involved in the allegations.

Last year, at least two Halifax police officers came forward with allegations they were discriminated against on the basis of their PTSD diagnosis.

Const. Mark Long said his pay was cut off after he missed work due to on-the-job stress, even though three doctors diagnosed him with PTSD.

Det. Const. Debbie Carleton said the police department approved funding for a doctor-prescribed, out-of-province PTSD treatment. But when she returned to Halifax and had a resurgence of PTSD symptoms, she says she was told she'd have to pay for her treatment herself.

Det. Const. Debbie Carleton is seen marching in a Pride parade in Halifax. (Heather Surette)

Both those matters will likely be included in the board of inquiry if the commission agrees with the staff recommendation.

These allegations have been accepted by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission but have not been proven. 

Investigation process skipped

Ordinarily, when someone contacts the human rights commission, staff meet with the complainant to assess their inquiry. If a complaint is accepted, it can move to an investigation stage.

An investigator works with the parties involved to collect information and organize resolution conferences. The goal is to resolve issues and repair relationships in a collaborative manner.

The complexity of this case and long-ranging effect of any decision in the matter led to the direct referral, the letter said.

Other reasons for the direct referral include:

  •  The complex analysis required of the collective agreement between the Halifax police force and the union representing its officers.
  •  The broad public interest, since it relates to treatment of other police officers with PTSD.
  •  The opportunity to provide the parties with an efficient and timely decision.

The parties involved have until roughly the end of the month to submit statements about the recommendation. At that point, it will be handed to the commissioners to vote on the recommendation and decide when a board of inquiry should be scheduled.

About the Author

Brett Ruskin

Reporter/Videojournalist

Brett Ruskin is a reporter and videojournalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.