The B.C. government has added esophageal cancer to a list of work-related illnesses suffered by firefighters, making it easier for them to qualify for benefits under the Workers Compensation Act.
The changes mean they will no longer have to provide additional medical or scientific evidence of the link between their jobs and the development of the disease.
The new coverage extends to roughly 3,800 full-time, volunteer, part-time and paid on-call firefighters who primarily handle fire suppression and have been on the job for at least 25 years.
Premier Christy Clark says the change takes effect immediately.
"We are grateful, and we are respectful of the sacrifice you make for us every day. It's the right thing to do and I'm proud we can do it," said Clark on Friday morning in Vancouver.
With the addition of esophageal cancer, 10 illnesses including brain, bladder, colorectal, kidney and lung cancer, are recognized by the province as work-related hazards for firefighters.
Pamela Alspach's father was a firefighter who died of cancer of the esophagus three years ago at the age of 57. She says Patrick Glendinning spent much of his illness fighting to prove a link between his cancer, and his job fighting fires.
"Dad didn't want to see any firefighter or family go through what we had to go through," she said.
"I want to thank you for completing my father's last chapter and for giving some peace to our family," said Alspach after the premier's announcement.