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Ontario Government To Help Firefighters Battle Illness

Armen Hareyan's picture

Expanded Coverage For Work-Related Illnesses Would Support Firefighters And Their Families.

Firefighters deserve compensation for fire-related illnesses and the Ontario government is working to ensure they get the help they need, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today.

"Firefighters and their families make sacrifices every day to keep Ontarians safe," said Premier McGuinty. "We're working to make sure these brave men and women get the support they need and deserve if they get sick."

The proposed amendment to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act would allow the government to make regulations affecting Ontario's full-time, part-time and volunteer firefighters, fire investigators and forest firefighters.

If passed, the government would move quickly to:

  • Implement a regulation covering full-time firefighters that would identify eight types of cancer as presumed to be work-related

  • Include heart attacks as presumed to be work-related if they occur within 24 hours of a fire; and,

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  • Consult with fire investigators, part-time and volunteer firefighters to develop the eligibility criteria for how the regulation would apply to these groups.

"This legislation recognizes the dangers firefighters face," said Fred LeBlanc, president of the Ontario Professional Firefighters' Association. "This initiative demonstrates leadership by the Ontario government and a commitment to firefighters. It gives firefighters and their families proper recognition that is due to them."

"Our amendments would lift the burden of proof from the backs of firefighters and their families during already difficult times," said Minister of Labour Steve Peters. "This proposal would place Ontario at the forefront of providing fairness and respect to firefighters whose health and lives have been impacted by their unique jobs."

Supporting firefighters and their families is just one way the McGuinty government is working on the side of Ontario families to help keep workers safe.

Other initiatives include:

  • Providing municipalities with a $30-million Ontario Fire Service Grant to improve services.

  • Hiring 200 new health and safety inspectors to carry out inspections of high-risk workplaces up to four times a year, and

  • Introducing a new regulation to protect people who work in confined spaces.

"The sacrifices made by these heroes every day inspire us to do all we can to keep them safe," said Premier McGuinty. "It's our job to make sure that firefighters and their families are taken care of when the job is done."