Province expands cancer coverage for firefighters

Enhancements to Workers' Compensation Act cover six new types of diseases

Province expands cancer coverage for firefighters

Saskatchewan has introduced amendments to its workers’ compensation system to provide more ground for firefighters.

The provincial government made changes to The Workers' Compensation Act, 2013 to provide presumptive coverage for six new types of cancer. The legislation will now cover:

  • primary site penile cancer
  • primary site pancreatic cancer
  • primary site thyroid cancer
  • primary site soft tissue sarcoma
  • primary site mesothelioma
  • primary site laryngeal cancer.

"Firefighters face risks and hazards every day as they work to keep citizens and our communities safe," said Don McMorris, labour relations and workplace safety minister. "Providing additional coverage for occupational cancers is an important way we can help support firefighters and their families."

Earlier this year, Ottawa gave royal assent to Bill C-224 – An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting.

Alberta and Nova Scotia also expanded cancer coverage for firefighters. Meanwhile, Ontario announced a $700,000 investment for training projects designed for 203 professional and volunteer firefighters around the province fighting fires in hazardous (Mayday) situations for small and rural services, automobile extraction, boating and water safety and elevator rescue.

Other changes to Saskatchewan’s WCA

Saskatchewan is also making the following changes to its WCA:

  • The definition of worker will now include secondary and post-secondary students in recognized programs, while executive officers will be excluded from the list. Other categories may also be added under the definition of workers under the legislation.
  • The province is making changes to privacy provisions to: (1) mirror The Health Information Protection Act; (2) provide for administrative penalties if a privacy breach occurs; and (3) simplify the process for releasing information during reconsideration or review of a decision on compensation claims.
  • All appeal tribunal decisions with rationale will be required to be published.
  • WCA will also start covering the expenses associated with transporting a deceased worker's body to the usual residence outside Canada.
  • It will also provide compensation to a worker's dependent children when the worker passes away from a non-work-related injury while on compensation no matter the length of time on compensation.
  • The medical review panel process will be simplified.
  • The permanent functional impairment award over a four-year period will be increased and indexed.
  • The independence allowance will be indexed.

"These legislative amendments will help ensure the workers' compensation legislation is current and address concerns from employers and injured workers and their families," McMorris said.

In August, The Saskatchewan government started looking for public feedback as part of its review of the employment standards provisions in Part II of The Saskatchewan Employment Act and four accompanying regulations.

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