Premier Christy Clark announced the expansion of the firefighters' occupational disease regulation so that firefighters who develop esophageal cancer can more easily qualify for benefits under the Workers Compensation Act.
"Firefighters work tirelessly to save lives and protect the property of British Columbians - all in the line of duty," said Premier Clark. "Adding esophageal cancer to the list of occupational diseases associated with firefighting will help these dedicated men and women and their families by streamlining and simplifying eligibility for workers' compensation benefits."
Previously, in order to qualify for benefits, firefighters would have to provide additional medical or scientific evidence that the cancer was work-related. With today's change, this will no longer be necessary.
"We recognize the risks to both health and safety that firefighters face during their careers," said Minister of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government Stephanie Cadieux. "With ten types of cancers now recognized under the Workers Compensation Act as occupational diseases associated with being a firefighter, we can be sure that if one of these brave men or women does get sick, compensation benefits will be there for them and their families."
Full-time, volunteer, part-time and paid on-call firefighters who are assigned primarily to fire suppression duties and who have a minimum 25 years of employment doing this work, all qualify for this coverage. About 3,800 firefighters in B.C. will be covered by this change.
"I would like to thank the government for supporting our efforts to add esophageal cancer to the list of cancers recognized as an occupational disease for firefighters," said BC Professional Fire Fighters' Association president Michael Hurley. "Firefighters across British Columbia will benefit from the steps this government is taking to recognize the risks firefighters face and making the necessary changes to help them and their families."
In addition to primary site esophageal cancer, the following types of cancer are included under the Workers Compensation Act: primary site brain cancer, primary site bladder cancer, primary site kidney cancer, primary non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, primary site ureter cancer, primary site colorectal cancer, primary leukemia, primary site testicular cancer and primary site lung cancer for non-smokers.
Office of the Premier
Ministry of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government