The Ontario government is extending health care protection for firefighters — all the way back to 1960.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday the province will increase cancer coverage for firefighters by adding six cancers to the list of those presumed to be related to their jobs.
"We want to ensure that firefighters can get the support that they need and the care they need," Wynne said at a news conference in a Toronto-area fire station.
"Firefighters face incredible risks every day — not only in the blazes they battle, but in the smoke they breathe in and all that is in that smoke."
Breast cancer, multiple myeloma and testicular cancer will be added to the list immediately. Prostate cancer, lung cancer and skin cancer will be phased in by 2017. The addition of all six will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 1960.
Wynne said the changes will make it easier for firefighters to qualify for benefits under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
The changes come one day before the Ontario Liberals are to table their new budget, which will require support, presumably from the NDP, if the province is to avoid an election. Wynne said the changes are not dependent on the budget.
Cancers already on the list include brain, bladder and kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and certain types of leukemia.