B.C firefighters who contract pancreatic or thyroid cancer are now eligible for workers’ compensation.
The Ministry of Labour announced the new changes to the Firefighters’ Occupational Disease Regulation under the Workers Compensation Act on Tuesday (Nov. 8), adding the two cancers to a long list of diseases firefighters are recognized to be at a higher risk of developing as a result of their work.
“Despite the safety equipment, firefighters are still exposed to dangerous substances from burning materials. Over time, exposure can lead to serious, sometimes deadly, illnesses where prompt treatment is critical,” Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, said in a statement.
The two new cancers join a list of 16 other types B.C. treats as occupationally-caused. Depending on the type of cancer, a firefighter must have work for between five and 20 years to be eligible for compensation.
B.C. also recently added cervical, ovarian and penile cancers to the list in April.
“Recognizing the health challenges that firefighters face is extremely important to our membership as they put their lives on the line every day in communities across this province,” Gord Ditchburn, president of BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, said.
B.C. first began recognizing the increased risk of cancer for firefighters in 2005, when it introduced the Firefighters’ Occupational Disease Regulation.