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Manitoba government adds new cancers to presumptive list for firefighters

November 29, 2021
By CFF Staff

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Nov. 26, Manitoba — The Manitoba government amended the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) to include coverage for five additional cancers on its list of those deemed presumptive occupational disease for firefighters and at-risk personnel in the Manitoba Fire Commissioners Office.

“Each and every single day, firefighters in every community of our province put their lives at risk to help those in need and for that we are deeply grateful,” said Heather Stefanson, in a press statement. “We recognize firefighters are at a heightened risk of contracting various cancers due to the nature of their work and the inevitable exposure to carcinogens on the job, despite all efforts to prevent and mitigate exposure risks. We are pleased to work with the firefighters association to make these changes that will enhance supports and benefits for their members.”

There are 14 types of cancer already included in the act. The additional five are: primary site thyroid cancer, primary site pancreatic cancer, primary ovarian cancer, primary site cervical cancer and primary site penile cancer.

“These additions to the firefighters presumptive cancer list will make Manitoba’s legislation one of the strongest in the world and our legislation will be a template for proper WCB support for firefighters around the world being diagnosed with occupational cancers they received due to the exposures they encountered while simply doing their job,” said Alex Forrest, president of the Manitoba Professional Firefighters Association, in a news release. “This support for our sisters in the fire service to have equal protection as their male counterparts would not have been possible without Heather Stefanson becoming our Premier.”

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The first list of presumptive cancers for firefighters was added to the act in 2002. The list was expanded in 2005, with coverage extended to part-time firefighters. The list was further expanded in 2009, and again in 2011, along with the addition of coverage for Fire Commissioner personnel.

“We are pleased to be able to offer this expanded WCA coverage as a show of support to our firefighters, the men and women who serve our communities every day with courage and professionalism,” said Finance Minister Scott Fielding. “Today’s announcement marks another step forward in recognizing and mitigating the human costs of the dangerous work they do.”

The proposed amendments to the act do not contain any regulatory requirements. The Workers Compensation Board will be responsible for administering the changes and identifying any concerns that arise, the minister noted.