Nfld. & Labrador

Firefighters lobby for cancer coverage

Firefighters are lobbying the Newfoundland and Labrador government to change workers compensation rules for cancer coverage.

Firefighters are lobbying the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to change workers compensation rules for cancer coverage.

Alex Forrest says firefighters deserve full insurance coverage. (CBC)

The firefighters want the same medical insurance coverage offered in other provinces, which recognize that certain cancers are caused by smoke from burning buildings. Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province that doesn't automatically offer the coverage.

Alex Forrest of the International Association of Firefighters said cancer should be regarded the same as other workplace injuries.

"It's no different than if a firefighter falls through a hole fighting a fire, that firefighter's family would be covered," he said.

"So if the firefighter dies of an occupational cancer, there would be a financial ability to make the family whole again."

Leslie Galway, CEO of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the board is looking at changing the rules for firefighters.

"What would happen now, today, is that if someone had a disease that they believe they can link to exposures in their occupation of firefighting, we would adjudicate that on a case-by-case basis," she said.

Firefighters from across Atlantic Canada are meeting in Corner Brook this week.

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