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Ontario Increases Cancer Coverage For Firefighters

Web posted on May 05, 2014

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on April 30, 2014 that Ontario is extending workplace protection for firefighters. This new regulation makes Ontario a leader once again and Ontario's firefighters among the best protected in the country.

"The hazardous work performed by the women and men of the Ontario Fire Service is vital for the safety of all citizens of this province. As Ontario firefighters protect our families in their time of need, this new regulation will ensure that their families are protected in their time of need." Tadeusz (Ted) Wieclawek, Ontario Fire Marshal & Chief of Emergency Management.

The province will help firefighters and their families get the support and care they need by adding six cancers to the list of those presumed to be related to their work. This will affect approximately 450 fire departments in Ontario, made up of about 11,000 full-time firefighters, 19,000 volunteer firefighters and 200 part-time firefighters.

These changes will make it easier for firefighters to qualify for benefits by reversing the burden of proof for those seeking coverage under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. Breast cancer, multiple myeloma and testicular cancer will be added to the list immediately. Prostate cancer, lung cancer and skin cancer will be phased in by 2017.

"Every day, Ontario firefighters risk their health and lives to protect us. I think all Ontarians would agree that we also have a responsibility to protect them. Increasing the number of cancers presumed to be caused by firefighting work is the compassionate thing to do and makes Ontario a leading jurisdiction in this area." Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour.

The extension of presumptive status for the six additional cancers will be retroactive to January 1, 1960, and apply to full-time, part-time and volunteer firefighters and fire investigators.

In 2007, the Ontario government added eight cancers to the presumed list of diseases that are work-related: brain cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, colorectal cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, certain types of leukemia, esophageal cancer and ureter cancer. That helped make Ontario one of the leaders in this area.

"Firefighters face dangerous situations every day, and the risks are both immediate and long-term. While we can never fully remove these dangers, we can, as a government, ensure firefighters have access to the highest quality of care and support. Thank you to MPP Steven Del Duca for his private member's bill which paved the way for these changes." Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario.

Extending coverage for the province's firefighters is part of the government's plan to protect those who keep Ontario safe each and every day.