VANCOUVER - Legislation that gives first responders peace of mind about potential disease exposure will come into force on March 2, 2013, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell announced today.
The Emergency Intervention Disclosure Act was passed on May 31, 2012. It recognizes that emergency personnel are at a higher risk of coming into contact with other peoples' bodily substances.
In the unfortunate case that an exposure occurs, if a blood sample is not given voluntarily, a court order can now be obtained to require individuals to give one. Without this, a worker could carry the mental burden of uncertainty for months before knowing for certain whether he or she has been exposed to a communicable disease.
An order-in-council, approved and ordered today, brings the act and recently drafted regulation into effect on March 2, 2013. The new regulation sets out the legal and procedural details that support the act, including:
- Adding victims of crime to those who can apply for a testing order, in addition to emergency personnel and individuals providing emergency health services.
- Communicable diseases to be tested for: HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C.
- Forms that must be used to seek a court order for a blood sample.
Before the act and regulation come into force, government will develop a comprehensive website that will provide full information about the legislation. The website, scheduled to be live by March 2, will be linked off of: www.labour.gov.bc.ca
Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour -
"In the last year, we've heard how important this legislation is to our first responders. These people put their lives on the line to save ours, so it's important we protect them in any way we can. While voluntary testing is always encouraged as a first step, it's nice to know that if they need it, first responders can get peace of mind through this legislation."
Michael Hurley, president, B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association -
"The Emergency Intervention Disclosure Act is designed to protect the emergency responders who, without hesitation and on a daily basis, will put themselves in harm's way to protect every citizen in British Columbia. The BCPFFA thank Premier Clark, Labour Minister Pat Bell, the B.C. government and all members of the legislature for unanimously passing this bill, which is so important to all emergency responders."
Bronwyn Barter, president, Ambulance Paramedics of BC -
"The Ambulance Paramedics of BC are proud of the work we provide to British Columbians every day. We are very pleased to have the Emergency Intervention Disclosure Act come into force. This is an important step for B.C.'s paramedics and we are thankful for all the work that has been done."
Tom Stamatakis, president, British Columbia Police Association and Vancouver Police Union
"I am very pleased that this government, and in particular Minister Bell, have responded to an issue that is important to all first responders across the province. This legislation acknowledges the risk our members face on a daily basis and sends a message that the well-being of police officers, firefighters and paramedics is important."
- Government will pay for the cost of taking, testing and analyzing the blood sample, as well as the cost to communicate test results under the act.
- Test results will be communicated through physicians only, and results will not be made public.
- Fines apply to anyone who contravenes the legislation's confidentiality provisions or refuses to obey a testing order. Fines range from $10,000 to $25,000 per day.
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour