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Friday, 27 May 2011 10:46

Volunteer and career firefighters receive enhanced WCB cancer coverage

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By Susan Quinlan
Pincher Creek
In a recent press release, Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk announced the province’s firefighters would now have Workers’ Compensation coverage for a total of 14 presumptive or work-related cancers, given the recent addition of prostate, breast, skin and multiple myeloma.

 In a follow-up press release, Lukaszuk announced Bill 20 was recently drafted to ensure the aforementioned coverage would be extended to Alberta’s 10,000 volunteer, part-time and casual firefighters, as well as to its 3,500 full-timers.

Dave Cox, Pincher Creek fire chief, said this was “great news” for all firefighters in Alberta, as government is recognizing the risks taken by this group particularly given that across Canada, most firefighters are volunteers.

Within the first press release it was stated that the proposed coverage would allow volunteer, part-time and casual firefighters to receive compensation without shouldering the burden of proof, provided they had been regularly exposed to the hazards of a fire scene. British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have similar presumptive coverage for their part-time firefighters.

In the second press release, Hector Goudreau, Minister of Municipal Affairs, said, “Municipal volunteer firefighters have been asking for this coverage for a long time. These workers are the backbone of fire services in the province, and we are pleased to respond and extend this coverage."

“These cancers don’t discriminate between

full-time and volunteer firefighters. Regardless of how many hours in a day are dedicated to their profession, our firefighters face risks to help Albertans.”

“This is a day of celebration,” added

Al Schram, Edson fire chief and 1st Vice President of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association.

WCB-Alberta provides compensation to all covered workers if they are injured or contract an illness, as a result of work.

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