Presumptive Legislation for Ontario Firefighters Passes Unanimously at Queen's Park
May 4 2007: Following a morning announcement by Premier McGuinty, the Hon. Steve Peters, Minister of Labour, introduced Bill 221, The Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act (Presumptions for Firefighters) yesterday in the legislature. Following the bill's first reading, the Opposition Labour Critic, Jim Wilson (PC Simcoe-Grey) made a motion seeking unanimous consent that Bill 221 be sent for second and third readings. All members of the Legislature unanimously passed Bill 221. According to the Globe&Mail, only twice in its history has a bill passed with unanimous, all-party consent at first, second and third readings at Queen's Park.
The Bill, which was singed into law this morning, provides the authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing presumptions for occupational diseases for fire fighters. The cancers identified in a prepared regulation for Ontario's full-time fire fighters is as follows:
Brain (10 years);
Bladder (15 years);
Kidney (20 years);
Colorectal (10 years but must be diagnosed before 61st birthday);
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (20 years);
Leukemia (15 years);
Ureter (15 years);
Esophageal (25 years) and
Heart injury within 24 hours of fighting a fire.
The legislation will apply to firefighter claims retroactive to 1 January 1960, as well as claims that have been processed by the WSIB up to and inlcuding appeals and/or the tribunal may now be re-filed and applied within the established parameters.
Further information on Bill 221 can be found at www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=1663
Background information on Bill 221 can be found at www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/news/2007/07-57b.html
Premier's Office News Release can be found at www.premier.gov.on.ca/news/Product.asp?ProductID=1205&Lang=EN
April 16th, 2006
(Consolidated up to 249/2005) ALBERTA REGULATION 102/2003 Workers’ Compensation Act FIREFIGHTERS’ PRIMARY SITE CANCER REGULATION Definitions 1 In this Regulation, (a) “Act” means the Workers’ Compensation Act; (b) “non-smoker” means an individual who has not smoked a tobacco product in the 10 years prior to the date of diagnosis of a primary site cancer. AR 102/2003 s1;249/2005 Designated cancers and periods of employment 2 For the purpose of section 24.1(4) of the Act, the primary site cancers and the minimum period of exposure for each disease are the following: PRIMARY SITE CANCERS MINIMUM PERIOD OF REGULAR EXPOSURE TO THE HAZARDS OF A FIRE SCENE -Primary leukemia 5 years, -Primary site brain cancer 10 years, -Primary site bladder cancer 15 years, -Primary site lung cancer in non-smokers 15 years, -Primary site ureter cancer 15 years, -Primary site kidney cancer 20 years, -Primary site colorectal cancer 20 years, -A primary non-Hodgkins lymphoma 20 years. In April of this year the province of Alberta enacted presumptive legislation which grants career Fire Fighters automatic coverage for certain types of cancer. Due to the nature of their jobs, firefighters are often exposed to hazardous fumes that make them particularly susceptible to cancers of the brain, colon, bladder, urethra and kidney as well as leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, over the course of their careers. The Alberta Fire Fighters Association’s efforts to bring this issue to the attention of the provincial government were aided by the research and support of the Alberta Cancer Board and Alberta Cancer Foundation. The Alberta Fire Fighters Association (AFFA) will show its appreciation for the support of the Alberta Cancer Board and Alberta Cancer Foundation through a fundraising campaign.Money will be raised for the Alberta Cancer Foundation through the sale of “support” ribbons at the various AFFA fire stations across the province. Ed Mclean, 1st Vice-President of the Alberta Fire Fighters Association made the announcement and was joined by Stacy Scott of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, on July 19th, 2006 at the St Albert Fire Department. Submitted by K. Sheedy, L2130 PR Committee Chairperson.
Presumptive Work in Manitoba & Other Provinces:
The province of Manitoba has amended its Workers’ Compensation Act to bring heart attacks and lung cancer under the umbrella of the “firefighters’ presumption,” which provides that certain cancers are presumed to be caused by employment as a firefighter. The amended Act also extends the firefighters’ presumption to casual, part-time, and volunteer firefighters.
While it is well known that firefighters face an increased risk of developing certain cancers compared to the general population, Canadian workers’ compensation tribunals have historically greeted the scientific evidence linking cancer to firefighting with skepticism. For example, in a December 2004 decision, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal rejected a career firefighter’s appeal from the denial of his application for workers’ compensation benefits, affirming the compensation tribunal’s view that the epidemiological evidence linking all cancers to firefighting was “inconclusive.” ( Moyer v. Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission of New Brunswick,  N.B.J. No. 466 (QL), reviewed in Lancaster’s Firefighters/Fire Services Employment Law News, January/February, 2005).
For this reason, since 2002, four Canadian provinces have added “firefighters’ presumptions” to their workers’ compensation laws, deeming certain types of cancers to be related to work as a firefighter unless the contrary is proven. On April 12, 2005, the government of British Columbia announced that it would become the fifth Canadian province to include a statutory firefighters’ presumption for certain cancers in its Workers’ Compensation Act. In addition, the province of Manitoba has enacted precedent-setting amendments to its workers’ compensation legislation, expanding its 2002 firefighters’ presumption to include heart attacks suffered by on-duty firefighters within 24 hours of an emergency response. In this issue, Lancaster House takes stock of the firefighters’ presumptions in workers’ compensation laws across Canada. Read the entire article by clicking here.