Ontario Expanding Cancer Coverage for Firefighters

Beamsville – The Ontario government is working for workers by expanding cancer coverage for firefighters. These changes will make it faster and easier for these frontline heroes and their families to access the compensation and supports they deserve for thyroid and pancreatic cancers from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

“Our local fire services in Niagara put their lives at risk every day and at every call,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

Today’s announcement is another example of how our government is putting frontline heroes and their families first by providing faster access to supports and benefits that will help protect firefighers.”

MPP Oosterhoff issued a provincial certificate to volunteer firefighers in Fonthill on Wednesday this week as Pelham Fire Services celebrated their 100th anniversary.

“In every community, firefighters are on the frontlines each and every day saving lives,” said Hon. Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

“These everyday heroes work tirelessly to protect the communities we live in and, in return, they deserve to get the care and support they need. By expanding the list of presumptive cancers to include thyroid and pancreatic cancers, firefighters will get faster access to compensation and other benefits, ultimately supporting their recovery.”

Firefighters die of cancer at a rate up to four times higher than the general population. On average, 50 to 60 firefighters die of cancer yearly in Canada, and half of those are from Ontario. Proposed changes by the government will streamline the assessment of WSIB claims by presuming they are work-related.

“Firefighters put service over self each day, ready to approach dangerous situations to protect their communities,” said Hon. Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General.

“In recognition of their courage, we have a duty to enhance the safety, health, and wellness of our community heroes. By expanding WSIB coverage for firefighters to include thyroid and pancreatic cancers, we continue to promote better health outcomes, while honouring their service.”

Expanded coverage for claims related to thyroid and pancreatic cancers would be retroactive to January 1, 1960. These changes would apply to full-time, volunteer and part-time firefighters, firefighters employed by First Nations band councils and fire investigators.

“Preventive measures, early detection and support for those suffering and/or succumbing to occupational cancer while serving the residents of Ontario, have proven to be a priority for this government through the unwavering support of Premier Ford and Ministers McNaughton and Kerzner,” said Greg Horton, President of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association.

“With the addition of pancreatic and thyroid cancers to the list of illnesses already presumed to have come from a long career in firefighting, the Ontario government is sending the message that the health and safety of these first responders is a priority.”

These regulatory amendments are part of a larger package that expands on the ground-breaking actions in the Working for Workers Acts, 2021 and 2022, which are already helping millions of people by introducing additional supports that embrace the future of work.