Hamilton Police Chief Frank Bergen is asking the Hamilton Police Service Board to authorizing increasing the “approved headcount by thirty-three (33) full-time Sworn Members, to backfill officers currently included in the HPS authorized headcount, who have been absent on WSIB for more than twenty-four (24) months continuously with no current prognosis for a return to work.”

In a report to the Board, Bergen states the HPS is using overtime to fill shifts, causing a “decline in Member wellness.”

The report states, “The HPS spent $6.89M in overtime in 2022 and $6.31M in 2023.”

As of February 13, 2024, 49 sworn police officers had been on WSIB leave for more than two years, and 29 officers had been on leave for less than two years. “Combining these figures, seventy-eight (78) members represent 9% of our sworn workforce,” Bergen writes.

In 2016, Ontario passed Presumptive Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) legislation for first responders.

The City of Hamilton replaces paramedics and firefighters when they are deemed ‘permanently disabled’, Bergen states the HPS is seeking to match this practice.

The Police Board meets on Thursday to consider the recommendation.