March 3, 2023, Toronto — The Ontario government is now including thyroid and pancreatic cancer coverage for firefighters, improving access to compensation and supports from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
“In every community, firefighters are on the front lines each and every day saving lives,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, in a news release. “These everyday heroes work tirelessly to protect the communities we live in and, in return, they deserve to get the care and support they need. By expanding the list of presumptive cancers to include thyroid and pancreatic cancers, firefighters will get faster access to compensation and other benefits, ultimately supporting their recovery.”
Firefighters die of cancer at a rate up to four times higher than the general population, reported the Ontario government. On average, 50 to 60 firefighters die of cancer yearly in Canada, and half of those are from Ontario. The inclusion of thyroid and pancreatic cancers will streamline their assessment in WSIB claims by presuming they are work-related.
Expanded coverage for claims related to thyroid and pancreatic cancers would be retroactive to January 1, 1960. These changes would apply to full-time, volunteer, and part-time firefighters, firefighters employed by First Nations band councils and fire investigators.
“Preventive measures, early detection and support for those suffering and/or succumbing to occupational cancer while serving the residents of Ontario, have proven to be a priority for this government through the unwavering support of Premier Doug Ford, the Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner,” said Greg Horton, president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, in a press statement. “With the addition of pancreatic and thyroid cancers to the list of illnesses already presumed to have come from a long career in firefighting, the Ontario government is sending the message that the health and safety of these first responders is a priority.”
These regulatory amendments are part of a larger package that expands on the ground-breaking actions in the Working for Workers Acts, 2021 and 2022.
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