Manitoba recognizes firefighting cancer risks

New law could set precedent for other occupations
By Asha Tomlinson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/20/2002

Manitoba firefighters who develop certain cancers can now claim for compensation and their disease will be presumed work-related — no questions asked. The recent bill, passed unanimously, makes Manitoba the first in Canada to have legislation drawing a link to cancer and full-time firefighting, and it could set the bar for other provinces.

“This is not only an important day for firefighters in Manitoba, but for all of Canada,” said Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg. “Other provincial governments should soon follow the initiative of (our) government in legislating cancer presumption for firefighters.”

When a fire fighter is diagnosed with one of five specific cancers — brain cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney or bladder cancer — after a number of years on the job, they will fall under Bill 5 of Manitoba’s Workers’ Compensation Act and be directly compensated. The board will assume the disease was caused by workplace hazards, such as smoke and toxic fumes.