PSAC applauds B.C. government for expanding cancer presumptions in workers’ compensation legislation to include federal firefighters

Federal firefighters in B.C. now enjoy the same coverage as municipal counterparts

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is pleased to see that the B.C. government recently passed Bill 9, which contains changes to the provincial Workers Compensation Act that adds federally employed firefighters to the list of eligible occupations that are covered by presumptive cancer language.

If a federal firefighter in B.C. is struck by cancer, the Workers Compensation Act will recognize that the disease is presumed to have been due to the nature of their work, unless the contrary is proved. There is no longer a need to prove that the disease is work related when applying for workers’ compensation benefits.

The changes to the B.C. act address a memorandum of understanding won in the last round of bargaining between PSAC and Treasury Board. The government committed to call on provincial authorities to ensure federal firefighters are afforded the same workers compensation coverage as their municipal counterparts.

Approximately 80 PSAC members in the Treasury Board FR group work as firefighters on military bases in B.C. and are potentially exposed to carcinogens while performing their duties, which include assisting municipal fire departments at off-base incidents.

Other provinces must follow suit

Manitoba, Alberta, and B.C. have now extended presumptive workers’ compensation legislation to include federal firefighters. PSAC calls on all other provinces to do the same and move quickly to ensure all firefighters enjoy equitable access to workers’ compensation benefits.