Relative Cost of Mental Health in the RCMP

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I have previously posted my belief RCMP employees should be required to see a psychologist of their choice as part of RCMP “Mandatory” medicals. One barrier to this that always comes up is the cost so I thought I would provide some context as to what the cost would be and how insignificant it actually is compared to the amount of funding the RCMP receives and costs of having employees “Off Duty Sick” and on “Graduated Return to Work”. Before all the purists start to comment “I don’t understand the complexity of Treasury Board Funding Policies”, I want to make it very clear I served at a level and in positions where I was required not only to understand “Treasury Board Rules” but Provincial Funding Policies under the “Provincial Policing Services Agreement (PPSA)” as well. I do not represent this as a comprehensive study on the topic because it isn’t (I did it in a couple of hours). I do believe what follows accurately illustrates the financial burden to provide mental health services to every employee is not as financially overwhelming as RCMP Senior Management suggests. As we all know, getting facts from the RCMP is difficult so I obtained the following excerpts from on-line Quarterly Reports and Audits:
“The RCMP achieved Budget 2012 savings of $44.4 million in 2012-13. Savings increased to $89.1 million for 2013-14 and will reach the on-going savings target of $195.2 million in 2014-15 (inclusive of employee benefit plan costs). These savings are being accomplished with minimal impacts on direct policing operations.
The period ending December 31, 2013 marks the second year of Budget 2012 implementation and the RCMP is preparing for the third and final year when its reference levels will be reduced to the full savings target of $195.2 million. Some key initiatives include:
• Health Care Modernization – The RCMP is modernizing its Health Services program through an amendment to the definition of an “insured person” under the Canada Health Act (received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012). As of April 1, 2013, basic health care coverage for regular members is now under provincial/territorial regimes. The RCMP anticipates significant reductions in basic health care expenditures in 2013-14, with full savings associated to the initiative being realized in 2014-15. Savings in expenditures is evident upon review of standard object 4, which is reflecting a $25.8 million year-over-year reduction, largely attributed to this DRAP initiative.
• In 2013-14
o Operating Budget Carry Forward is $53.1 million higher in 2013-14 when compared to 2012-13. In 2012-13, the RCMP received $101.2 million through TB Central Vote transfer, whereas in 2013-14 the RCMP received $154.3 million in funding.”
On September 1st, 2015 there were 28,461 employees in the RCMP. If you multiply that by $160.00, the hourly cost of a Psychologist in the province I reside it would cost $4,553,760.00 annually or $2,276,880.00 if included as part of mandatory medicals every two years. This is less than 1/5th of the $25.8 million year-over-year reduction achieved through the Health Care Modernization noted above.
In February of 2014 the Final Report on the “Audit of Long – Term Sick Leave” was released and below is the Table with respect to Graduated Return to Work. The review used 4 Divisions for Audit purposes. (www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/aud-ver/reports-rapports/lts-cmld-eng.htm)
As shown in Table 1 below, notwithstanding the lack of complete and accurate information in HRMIS, for the divisions tested GRW timelines were significantly higher than standard:
Table 1 – Average period for members reported GRW as at March 1, 2013:
Division #GRW on HRMIS Average # Months
1 7 7.1
2 187 9.4
3 39 7.1
4 28 7.5
Total 261 7.78
Considering it was reported in 2010 that “E” Division had over 200 members on Long Term Sick Leave it is unlikely it is one of the Divisions included in the Audit so lets’ use the hypothetical scenario of 800 members annually on ODS for 2 months or 1/6th of a year prior to coming back on GRW with the Cst. salary of $39/hr. RCMP members are paid for 2,087 hours per year, so 2 months represents 348 hrs or $13,572 in salary. If you multiply that by 800 members which would be a conservative estimate, the cost is $10,857,600 or more than double the cost of having each employee see a psychologist once a year.
No, I am not naive enough to believe seeing a psychologist once a year is going to eliminate Operational Stress Injuries (OSI”s) but it would go a long way to preventing/mitigating not only OSI’s but a number of other issues related to mental health. It would also check off a box on every Commissioned Officers ”Performance Agreement” which seems to be the primary (if not the only) reason for doing things in today’s environment. This simple action would provide employees with an additional resource (maybe their only resource in some cases) in the eventuality they do suffer an OSI, provide them with an opportunity to develop strategies to increase resiliency to OSI’s early thereby reducing the long term effects and above all promote and educate everyone on mental health.
The RCMP Mental Health Strategy 2014-2019 listed the following as key areas:
(www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/fam/strat-eng.htm)
Our focus
The strategy focuses on five key areas:
1. Promotion
2. Education
3. Prevention
4. Early detection and intervention
5. Continuous improvement.
The requirement for employees to see a psychologist as part of mandatory medicals addresses all 5. The cost everyone is so concerned about in all likelihood would be recovered multiple times over through reduced ODS and GRW. I am not one to write the Public Safety Minister, Provincial Justice Minister or the Commissioner as you are quickly labelled a “disgruntled employee”, “uniformed” or “trouble maker” and I am none of them. I visited a former colleague the other day and he told me I was too “passionate” about the force when I was working and I am still too “passionate” about it. I like everyone else served proudly and despite the pitfalls of certain individuals within the organization there are a far greater number of employees (past and present) who are as passionate as I am and if we all stand together change on this issue is possible. Yes, there is a significant cost to providing mental health services but there is a far greater cost to “not providing mental health services”. Above all, maybe there won’t be a next time someone feels they have no option other than to sacrifice their own life.
S/Sgt. R.T. Miller (retired)

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RIP Const. Jean-Pascal Nolin

We write this note with a very heavy heart, we have lost another RCMP member, Const. Jean-Pascal Nolin, a 10-year veteran of the force, reportedly parked his cruiser at the Metcalfe Street side entrance to the Thomas D’Arcy McGee building, between Sparks and Queen streets, then walked in to the offices of the force’s A Division Parliament Hill detachment, located in the building, and shot himself. He leaves behind a spouse and two young children.
Our hearts go out to Const. Jean-Pascal Nolin family and all those who knew, worked with and loved him, all of whom are struggling to deal with the aftermath of suicide.
Please know that we at Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness are devastated and we are working tirelessly to do all we can to stop these tragedies from occurring.
We send a plea to each and every one of you to reach out to those who are retired or those you know are struggling with PTSD, to both the members and their families, and let them know they are not alone, that you care, we care and we are all are here for each other.
RIP Const. – You and your contribution to Canada and society will not be forgotten.
Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness

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I am not ashamed to admit that I do have PTSD

I am not ashamed to admit that I do have PTSD, the nightmares, the triggers, the very bad days where you think there is no help.
I share this experience cause for me personally, the weeks and days leading up to my annual training were filled with anxiousness and the willingness to just give up and cancel, avoid it….I did not want to give this “injury” more power on me, consume me further; However from what I learned from professional help, is that I needed to face these new challenges head on, and to keep telling myself to “bring myself back to the present”
I know deep down inside that this is just “training” – We have to prepare for this, cause I know personally it is inevitable and it can happen.

My coworkers / friends who bleed blue know that we have to, and we will go towards that threat, we will NOT give up, we will give everything we have, cause unselfishly, that’s what we signed up for.

At times, I wanted to give up through this challenge, however on June 4, 2014, Moncton, NB while running through the carnage; 3 friends /co-workers / Heroes, paid the ultimate price- they DID NOT give up. I take solace in knowing that;
And the least I can do, is to fight through these challenges.
Although emotionally draining, I do feel that a small weight was lifted off my shoulders; I got through it with some peer support and great instructors.

There is hope out there, the sun does get brighter as days go by. #thinblueline #rcmp #ptsd #training #hope

Anonymous

March 6th, 1986 will never be forgotten in my mind and in the mind of many others RIP S/Cst. Rob Thomas

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March 6th, 1986 will never be forgotten in my mind and in the mind of many others. It was on that day, that S/Cst. Rob Thomas and Cst. Reg Gulliford, were needlessly gunned down in Powerview, Manitoba. S/Cst. Rob Thomas was fatally shot through the back and was killed instantly on that night shift in March. Rob’s son, to be born in the near future, would never meet his Dad. He has grown to be a find young man.

On that night, Reg and Rob had stopped to see if a motorist at a closed service station was in need of assistance. They were just trying to be helpful in small town Canada. Rob got out of the passenger side of the police truck and was walking toward the stopped car. Suddenly the driver’s door swung open and a rifle came out. Rob turned to get back to the police truck and as his hand touched the door, a shot rang out. Reg watched in horror as Rob’s eyes rolled back and Rob was dead before he hit the ground. I will never forget how upset Reg was as he related this story to me at his bedside of ICU in the St. Boniface hospital in Winnipeg. The feeling of helplessness, guilt and second guessing is hard to put behind you when you are looking into your young partners eyes as he passes away. Watch your policing partner die. It is absolutely horrible. Nobody ever gets over that image. Every RCMP Member who was at that Detachment was permanently scarred by this tragic event.

Reg jumped out of the driver’s side for cover and drew his service revolver. Rifle shots rang out and Reg returned fire. Reg was shot and hit the ground. The shooter walked toward the police vehicle to finish him off with a couple more shots. Then the shooter got back in his car and left. Reg was left bleeding to death in the parking lot.

Through the quick and heroic efforts of local citizens and the first responders, Reg was evacuated to emergency medical care. His injuries were so severe he literally died and was brought back to life. His loyal wife, a nurse at the receiving hospital held his hand all the way to the trauma unit.

After many months and many surgeries later Reg was lucky to survive. He would never recover completely and nor would his family, friends and colleagues. Reg worked hard to get back to work, but would never see another day, back in the patrol car. He managed the severe injuries to his body and never regained full use of his leg.

Throughout this medical miracle, Reg endured endless X-Rays to assist is in his recovery. He passed away over 20 years later while still an active RCMP Member. He managed his injuries and adapted to his physical and mental changes. He eventually battled a rare form of cancer that was related to radiation exposure. This exposure was from the endless X-rays to help him recover. I cried as I stood by his graveside on that cold January in our home town. Memories of March 6, 1986 still fresh in my memory. His death was directly related to that fateful night on March 6, 1986.

Reg and I would chat in his hospital room about our teenaged years, our days in university, our families, teenaged hockey adventures and our work days in the bush. Reg would lift the dressings on his belly to show me the cellophane covered window to his intestines. They had to keep him open to clean out infection and lead bullet fragments , as they were located during medical procedures. Reg was as tough as nails and as gentle as a lamb. A big strong guy with massive hands, but still his Mudder’s boy. My heart ached but my face could never show the pain to a man who was bravely enduring so much. Rob was a kind and considerate young man who was looking forward to a bright future and growing his family.

I attended Rob Thomas’s, regimental funeral at the First Nations community of Peguis, Manitoba on a cold March day. Tears were frozen on the faces of the toughest of police officers. Such a senseless loss of life and a terrible tragedy for the families involved. These police offices were just looking to help someone out on a cold March nite. But, as the saying goes, no good deed should go unpunished. In the spirit of his aboriginal upbringing, Rob’s father lead the community and spiritual healing.

Please remember Rob and Reg for the their choices to serve their community and country. Rest in peace good men, as your children and grandchildren are good people and your spouses continue to honour your memory. There and many others who will forever remember your sacrifice.

Please remember all those who had their lives turned upside down on that cold March night the hamlet of Powerview, Manitoba. Remember that theses police officers were just trying to be helpful in a quiet small town. Remember the ultimate sacrifice they made.

Rest in peace Rob and Reg. Your memories and our respect for your ultimate sacrifice will live forever in all who knew you two brave police officers. God bless you.

Blue lives matter, all lives matter. That is why Rob and Reg were out there on that cold March night.

Steve Walker

Believe me if I could change things I would….

Just when you think you can leave the past behind it comes back to slap you in the face. 10 years have gone by and it was before I was aware of PTSD. My actions then continue to be revisited by family (on occasion) when you least expect it. Believe me if I could change things I would and there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t regret the decisions I made then. Even more so knowing the people that convinced me work was more important than family were playing me like a fiddle. Choosing work over family never goes away because once your done work you are quickly forgotten while your family is still there if you are lucky. For those still working, if your supervisors and peers are telling you work is a priority and your family will understand don’t make the same mistake I did, it is bs with a capital B. Once the organization gets what they want, they will leave you to pick up the pieces if you can find them. I was lucky even though days like this make it hard to believe. At least I have a family to give me days like this rather than the bottom of a bottle or worse. Sorry for the rant.

Please take care. “you’re never wrong to do the right thing.”

R.T. (Bob) Miller S/Sgt. (retired)

From the wife of a RCMP member who suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Thank you for starting this support group. Change can happen with awareness and support.
I am a widow of a RCMP member who was diagnosed with PSTD. My husband struggled with this illness for 3 years before taking his own life 12 years ago this month. After his death, I wrote a letter about my experience as a spouse of a RCMP member who suffered from PSTD in hopes of helping other members and their families. I know it travelled across Canada as I had many people contact me about it. It was also given to a RCMP psychologist to help bring awareness on how PSTD affects not only members but their families as well. It saddens me to read in this FB group that things have not changed a lot over the years when it comes to supporting members and their families who are affected from PSTD.
It is hard to believe on January 26th it will be 12 years since that tragic day. The hardest part of moving forward has been watching my children grow up missing their dad in their lives (our son was 10 and our daughter was 7). My daughter has a tattoo on her arm of her father’s signature and DOB and DOD, she also wears an engraved picture of him on a necklace.
Sherry

6 February 2004

From the wife of a RCMP member who suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
It is difficult for me to even know where to begin to inform people about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the affects it has not only on a person/member suffering from it, but the family as well. I feel obliged to tell our story, I will be gaining strength in doing so. By telling our story I may influence others to pay attention to this disease and help others deal more effectively with it. God knows it has to be addressed immediately.
As I write this letter I feel pain that no words can describe. My husband was my best friend, my soul mate and the father to my two children. I watched him suffer pain within himself, and struggle to live for the sake of myself and his children. Anyone that knew my husband would say he was a very hard working, loving, and compassionate person who brought sunshine to everyone he met whether it was a first meeting or a lifelong friendship. He wore his RCMP uniform with great pride and respected all his colleagues whether they were a Commissioner or Constable. I am telling my story in hopes that my husband and my own cries will be heard. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is life threatening and treatable. It is not a personality disorder, or a moral disorder. It is not self induced or wanted by the sufferer or their loved ones. It is a primary disease the same as cancer or any other primary disease. If you feel inclined to make judgments about the sufferer, you contribute to their suffering exactly the same as if you induced cancer cells into someone with that disease.
Before ending this letter, I want to thank all of you who did help and support my husband and I over this traumatic series of events. Many of you were angels of hope and comfort to us, and God will know and reward you. Please hear my message. Remove the unwarranted stigma from this deadly affliction…………..

I beg you.

Sherry Webb
This is only a small excerpt from Sherry’s letter to the RCMP after her husband Constable Jeff Webb lost his courageous battle to PTSD January 26th 2004.

So the time has come to pass the torch.

As I write this, I can hear the wail of sirens in the distance. To many that’s the sound of distress but to some of us, we know that’s the sound of help.

Since 1976 I’ve been involved in emergency services in one extent or another. I’ve had the privilege to share in the drama of life, and death. I’ve experienced the passing of many and the birth of some, the evil of some and the goodness of many. I’ve held hands and handcuffed hands. I’ve ran to help, ran to catch and ran to survive. I’ve been praised, fought, spit on, stabbed, shot at and blown up. I’ve got scars on my body, heart, soul and mind. I’ve wore uniforms appreciated by most and despised by some. I’ve had meals bought for me and I’m sure, some spit in.

I’ve missed meals, nights, holidays, birthdays and Christmas’s but always had the support of my family. I’ve also had the privilege of having a second family. A family of colleagues. Those that would have my back no matter what. Truly some of the finest people in the country, if not world.

If I could turn back time would I? Would I have changed anything? Hell no! What a ride! I can truly say I’ve had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth.

To my ever patient wife and our kids, thank you for the support, understanding, patience and love. I know at times it wasn’t easy. And to all those that I’ve had the privilege to work along side, thank you for the memories. They will help keep the balance of the good times and the bad times in perspective.

Be safe and continue to do the good fight for everything you believe in.

Maintiens le Droit.

Keith