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Mental health: relatives of first responders who died in service feel abandoned

New Brunswick families and police say they are forgotten by the federal government. As of April 1, 2018, Ottawa will pay benefits to relatives of public security officers who have died in the line of duty. This assistance will not be available to victims of incidents that occurred before that date, such as the Moncton shooting.

Charles Goguen never recovered from the Moncton shooting that claimed the lives of three RCMP officers. One of them, Douglas Larche, was his son-in-law. He took care of his daughter Nadine Larche and her three granddaughters after the tragedy.

“What we went through with one of my granddaughters … She cried for a long time, she said to me” I do not want to talk, I’m going to make you cry Grandpa, and when she tells you “I want to go to heaven to visit Daddy “It’s hard to hear that, and children, like parents, need mental help,” says Charles Goguen.

Goguen has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Our whole family has been marked by this tragedy,” he says.

Relatives of first responders such as police, firefighters and paramedics who died in service will receive mental health care as of April 1, 2018.

“The [federal government] is proposing to invest $ 80 million over five years, starting in 2018-2019, and $ 20 million per year thereafter, to support the establishment of the Community Heroes Benefit, a non-wage benefit. taxable amount that will be implemented in collaboration with the provinces, territories and municipalities. This benefit will support families of public safety officers who have died in the line of duty, “reads the 2017 federal budget.

However, families like Charles Goguen’s will not be eligible.

“[This cover] should be no fault automatic! It’s sad to see that it’s not there. I am proud that from April 1, 2018, Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Security) will do that, but we can not forget the people of the past, it is not correct at all, “laments Charles Goguen .

A movement that is gaining momentum

A petition, with more than 3400 signatures, was launched a few days ago by the Canadian Critical Incident Stress Foundation to urge Minister Goodale to recognize all families of first responders who died in service.

Goguen signed it and all his family. The same goes for Constable Louis-Philippe Thériault, who intervened during the Moncton shootings.

These families need help, they have suffered because a family member sacrificed their lives to protect the people and serve the country.

Louis-Philippe Thériault, President of the Canadian Mounted Police Professional Association

“In the Moncton area, in the last two to three years, there have been paramedic suicides, one of which was at the shooting of June 4”, laments Louis-Philippe Thériault.

Louis-Philippe Thériault, who is also the president of the Canadian Mounted Police Professional Association, says he regularly communicates with five families of RCMP officers who have died in service. “These families still suffer from anxiety, there are children who have never known their father or who have a very slight memory, there are some who are still not able to return to work because there is always has a stress related to that. ”

First Responder Support Center in Moncton

Thériault maintains that there are too few places to help first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress. According to him, the centers often have waiting lists and are not suitable for everyone.

“What I would like is a center that could handle all first responders. It would probably be private and the province and the federal government could send everyone there. I am working to open a treatment center for post-traumatic stress disorder in the Moncton area for first responders and the military, “says Louis-Philippe Thériault.

For his part, Goguen intends to continue his fight to improve support for the families of the victims. “I would like to meet with Mr. Justin Trudeau to explain what is happening in our families. I think he should know! “

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