Nova Scotia

Gay navy firefighter claims he was abused and his equipment sabotaged

A Nova Scotia firefighter claims he was abused and targeted by his Department of National Defence co-workers because of his sexual orientation, while he worked as a firefighter aboard a navy fire boat.

Firefighter experienced 'multiple instances of traumatic events,' state appeal documents

A Nova Scotia firefighter has been fighting for years to receive compensation for abuse he claims he suffered while working on a navy fire boat. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia firefighter claims he was abused and targeted by his Department of National Defence co-workers because of his sexual orientation, while he worked as a firefighter aboard a navy fire boat. 

Those allegations are outlined in documents released late last month from the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal.   

The worker has spent the last four years fighting for workers' compensation for alleged abuse he suffered on the job. 

His identity has been withheld by both his employer and the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Board. He is now in his 50s, and worked as a military and civilian firefighter. In both those roles he was employed by DND.

The tribunal's documents state the man had "multiple instances of traumatic events."

Breathing apparatus sabotaged 

The most serious incident alleged involved the worker's firefighting breathing apparatus. 

Firefighters battle a fire on a sail boat in False Creek British Columbia. (CBC)

He discovered that "part of his personal protective equipment had been tampered with so as to allow outside air, gases and smoke to enter his facemask directly in the event of a fire," according to the tribunal's documents. 

This incident allegedly happened amid constant ostracization and harassment. The man testified co-workers made humiliating comments and posted gay pornography in the man's dorm room.

Initial claim rejection

When the worker first applied for compensation from the Workers' Compensation Board, the board rejected him.

He then filed an appeal with the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal. 

"I accept the worker's testimony as credible," said K. Andrew MacNeil, the appeal commissioner.

MacNeil's decision allowed the worker's appeal. It directed the WCB to now "assess the benefits payable in relation to the claim."

No further appeals expected

The WCB could appeal the tribunal's decision, according to a board spokesperson. 

However, in the time since this tribunal's decision has been released there have been no appeals filed by the WCB.

DND officials said they cannot comment on specific personnel matters due to privacy concerns.

However, in a statement a spokesperson said: "this type of alleged behaviour is not tolerated in a Canadian Armed Forces workplace."

"The military as an employer, strives towards inclusiveness and has a zero tolerance policy towards harassment," the statement said.

Following the alleged incidents, the worker accepted another position, though, not as a firefighter. 

However, according to the tribunal's document, he alleges harassing incidents continued "which have not, as of yet, been investigated."