KAWARTHA LAKES-The Ontario government says it is expanding cancer coverage for firefighters. According to the government, these changes will make it faster and easier for firefighters and their families to access compensation and support for thyroid and pancreatic cancers from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
“In every community, firefighters are on the front lines each and every day saving lives,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “These everyday heroes work tirelessly to protect the communities we live in and, in return, they deserve to get the care and support they need. By expanding the list of presumptive cancers to include thyroid and pancreatic cancers, firefighters will get faster access to compensation and other benefits, ultimately supporting their recovery.”
Statistics show firefighters die of cancer at a rate up to four times higher than the general population. On average, 50 to 60 firefighters die of cancer yearly in Canada, and half of those are from Ontario. Proposed changes by the government will streamline the assessment of WSIB claims by presuming they are work-related.
“Firefighters put service over self each day, ready to approach dangerous situations to protect their communities,” said Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General. “In recognition of their courage, we have a duty to enhance the safety, health, and wellness of our community heroes. By expanding WSIB coverage for firefighters to include thyroid and pancreatic cancers, we continue to promote better health outcomes, while honouring their service.”
Expanded coverage for claims related to thyroid and pancreatic cancers would be retroactive to January 1, 1960. These changes would apply to full-time, volunteer, and part-time firefighters, firefighters employed by First Nations band councils and fire investigators.
“Preventive measures, early detection and support for those suffering and/or succumbing to occupational cancer while serving the residents of Ontario, have proven to be a priority for this government through the unwavering support of Premier Doug Ford, the Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner,” said Greg Horton, President of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association. “With the addition of pancreatic and thyroid cancers to the list of illnesses already presumed to have come from a long career in firefighting, the Ontario government is sending the message that the health and safety of these first responders is a priority.”