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Bill 25 would ensure wildfire firefighters in Manitoba benefit from firefighter cancer, heart injury presumption

March 13, 2023 
By FFIC Staff

March 13, 2023, Man. – Bill 25, the Workers Compensation Amendment Act (wildfire firefighters), is being introduced to ensure wildfire firefighters benefit from cancer and heart injury presumption that applies to other Manitoba firefighters under the Workers Compensation Act, Labour and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes announced today.

When firefighters contract certain types of primary cancers or heart injuries, the firefighter presumption makes it easier to establish that their cancer or injury is related to work. Currently, the presumption does not apply to wildfire firefighters.

Under the current act, if firefighters or Office of the Fire Commissioner personnel are diagnosed with one of 19 designated cancers or suffer a heart injury within 24 hours of responding to an emergency, the act presumes this to be a work-related illness or injury. By adding a definition of ‘wildfire firefighter’ to the firefighter presumption, it would apply equally to all firefighters.

The minister noted wildfire firefighters, like urban firefighters, are exposed to varying levels of smoke with the potential for exposure to carcinogens. In addition, like other types of firefighters, wildfire firefighters are exposed to similar stresses of heavy muscular work, extreme temperatures, sympathetic nervous system activation, and exposure to smoke, and are therefore at a similar risk for suffering a heart injury.

“While these changes will more effectively address the risks posed to wildfire firefighters, prevention and risk mitigation remain a central focus of Manitoba’s occupational safety and health framework,” said Reyes.

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