Three cancers deemed presumptive for firefighters in B.C.

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The British Columbia government is adding three types of cancer to those that could be considered occupational diseases suffered by firefighters. According to a statement issued on March 6 by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, breast cancer, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma will be added to the Firefighters Occupational Disease Regulation under the Workers’ Compensation Act. That means firefighters who develop those diseases after a certain period of time on the job would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits without having to prove that the cancer is work-related. The province said it had first recognized certain cancers as occupational diseases for firefighters in 2005. Since then, the list of cancers has grown to ten and includes brain, bladder and testicular cancer, as well as leukemia. Heart disease and heart injury were also restored as illnesses presumed to be conditions developed by firefighters in 2014. “Firefighters are exposed to toxic environments that greatly contribute to increased cancer risks, more than double that of the general population,” said Gord Ditchburn, president and board chairman of the B.C. Professional Firefighters Association. Members across the province are expected to benefit from the additional coverage, as will their families who, Ditchburn said, are often the ones who must navigate the coverage process with WorkSafeBC.

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