News Releases

North Bay Police Service Corrects Inaccurate Comments about Officers Suffering from PTSD

March 16, 2023

The North Bay Police Service would like to clarify statements made by a member of North Bay City Council as reported in a March 15, 2023 article published in the North Bay Nugget regarding North Bay Police Service officers who are currently away from work and experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The Nugget article includes a quote in which the claim is made that 2.5 per cent of the 3.32 per cent municipal tax increase in the City of North Bay’s 2023 budget is caused by North Bay Police Service officers being off work to receive treatment for PTSD. This statement is inaccurate.

The increase to the North Bay Police Service’s budget is primarily the result of the necessary hiring of new officers in 2022 and 2023 as well as the creation of new positions internally that support front-line officers during criminal investigations. The hiring of these officers was motivated in large part by consultations with the public, who clearly stated their desire for more officers in North Bay to deal with pressing public concerns about crime, addiction, and mental health. Price inflation for necessary goods such as fuel, uniforms, training and insurance also contributed to the 2023 budget increase. Many police services across Ontario have requested higher-than-average budget increases this year to deal with the pressing issues of crime and public safety.

Currently, the North Bay Police Service has 18 per cent of its sworn officers off work while they receive treatmeant for PTSD. This is a large number of officers away from work, but it is not the highest rate in the province; many other police services in Ontario have a high rate of officers off work receiving treatment for PTSD.

Police services across the province saw an increase in members off work to receive treatment for PTSD after the Ontario legislature passed the Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) in 2016. A key provision of the Act was the presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders was work-related. This ensures that police officers and other first responders receive faster access to WSIB benefits, as well as PTSD support resources and treatment. While staffing challenges have arisen since the passage of the Act as a result of the increase in officers off work to receive treatment, ultimately this is a positive development as it ensures officers are receiving treatment for PTSD that prior to the passage of the Act may have gone untreated.

The North Bay Police Service is working to proactively address PTSD and mental health concerns among our members. This includes the hiring of a Wellness Navigator in 2023 who will be responsible for ensuring members receive appropriate mental and physical health supports while on- and off-duty. The position will also chart the implementation of the Service’s Employee Health and Wellbeing Plan, which was approved in 2021. We believe these initiatives will help ensure resilience among our sworn officers and civilian members.

“Members of the North Bay Police Service are exposed to trauma of varying degrees on a daily basis. Our members may be exposed to more trauma over a week than many residents of this city will see in a lifetime,” said Vincent Corrente, President of the North Bay Police Association. “Yet, our members do their best to conduct themselves with dignity, professionalism and compassion every day in service to the community they are proud to serve. Unfortunately, job-related trauma is cumulative and some of our members reach their breaking point where they need to step away to get the appropriate treatment. Prioritizing your mental health and dealing with the effects of PTSD is a difficult step for many to take. All of us should do our part to change the conversation so that we support members who take that step rather than reinforce the negative stigma for those suffering from a serious mental health issue.”

“Ensuring that our members are healthy and supported as they work to ensure the safety of the people of North Bay remains my top priority,” said North Bay Chief of Police Scott Tod. “The stressful and potentially traumatic situations our members face on a daily basis inevitably result in some requiring treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am glad that we, as a police service, are doing our part to reduce the stigma around receiving mental health treatment by increasing the supports we provide our members to assist them in recovery. It is disappointing and disheartening to see incorrect statements about our members who are receiving treatment for PTSD become part of the public conversation. These factually inaccurate statements only further the stigma around mental health.”