B.C. to add more cancer coverage for firefighters
The provincial government intends to move ahead with an amendment to the Firefighters Occupational Disease Regulation under the Workers Compensation Act to add presumptions for breast cancer, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma as occupational diseases for firefighters.
A presumption means if a professional or volunteer firefighter develops one of the listed cancers after a certain period of employment, it is presumed that the cancer arose from their employment. The firefighter is then eligible for workers’ compensation benefits without having to provide evidence that the cancer is work-related, stated a Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour press release issued this morning.
The province first recognized certain cancers as occupational diseases for firefighters in 2005. Cancer presumptions for firefighters are already recognized for: Brain; Bladder; Colorectal; Kidney; Ureter; Testicular; Lung; Esophageal; Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Leukemia.
As well, in 2014 the province fulfilled its commitment to restore heart disease and heart injury as a workers’ compensation presumption for firefighters.
“I would like to thank Premier (Christy) Clark, Minister (Shirley) Bond and the B.C. government for supporting our efforts to add breast, prostate and multiple myeloma cancer to the list of cancers recognized as an occupational disease for firefighters. The addition of these presumptive coverages will benefit firefighters in every region of British Columbia, including the families who are often the ones left to navigate the claims process with WorkSafeBC. Firefighters are exposed to toxic environments that greatly contribute to increased cancer risks, more than double that of the general population,” stated Gord Ditchburn, B.C. Professional Firefighters Association president and board chair.
“On the job, firefighters are exposed to very real hazards and their work saves lives and keeps our communities safe. That is why we’re enabling regulatory changes to support three new cancer presumptions for them. This change is a meaningful step that acknowledges the tremendous risks firefighters take any time they are called to duty,” added Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, and Minister Responsible for Labour.
Lead image: A Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services firefighter battles a major fire on Baker Street in downtown Cranbrook in April 2012. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW file photo