Firefighters supporting recommendations in WHSCC review

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Changes would see cancer types covered by workers’ compensation

The immediate exposure to fire and smoke inhalation aren’t the only dangers firefighters face.

There are certain types of cancers that can develop over a career which firefighters in this province have been trying to get covered under workers’ compensation.

A recent statutory review of the Workplace, Health, Safety & Compensation Commission (WHSCC) has made recommendations in favour of just that.

St. John’s Firefighters Association president Doug Cadigan is pleased with the recommendations that would see eight types of cancer linked to career fighters covered by workers’ compensation.

However, this isn’t the first time firefighters of the province have gotten this far. Back in 2006 the statutory review committee of the day made the same recommendations, but they were never enacted.

“So basically we’re back to the point where we were in 2006,” says Cadigan.

As of right now, each cancer case is looked at individually. There’s no guarantee that any compensation will be offered. Cadigan says P.E.I., Quebec and this province are the only ones that don’t have any presumptive cancer legislation. The number of cancers covered by provinces that do varies.

“It’s probably one of the more studied occupational diseases that’s out there. It’s been studied for many, many years,” he says.

The next step for firefighters in this province is to get the recommendations brought before government and voted on as a change in legislation.

If it passes in the house, it still has to be declared law. It’s not uncommon for legislation to be passed in the house, but never declared law, especially if there is a cabinet shuffle or a change in government, both of which are possible with a 2015 election scheduled.

Cadigan says it’s certainly a concern how long things can take to happen and how easily they seem to get reset but he’s just happy with the recommendations now.

He is hoping to get a meeting with government as soon as possible to get the ball rolling in taking those recommendations to the next step.

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Safety Compensation Commission, Firefighters Association

Geographic location: Quebec

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