Alberta firefighters get automatic WCB coverage for 2 more cancers

Province adds esophageal and testicular cancer to list

Firefighters in Alberta will now automatically be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage if they contract esophageal or testicular cancer, the province has announced.

These two cancers are being added to the list of cancers with automatic WCB coverage for qualifying firefighters, bringing the list to 10.

“WCB already gives tremendous cancer coverage to firefighters, but this will streamline things, said Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta’s Minister of Employment and Immigration. “By adding these two cancers to the list, we can provide compensation to firefighters and their families immediately instead of waiting for the results of complex investigations.”

WCB Alberta provides compensation to all workers it covers if they are injured or contract an illness as a result of work. Although there are many factors that can contribute to the risk of contracting cancer, firefighters are at greater risk than the general public of being exposed to a variety of toxic or cancer-causing agents when they approach burning buildings.

The Alberta Fire Fighters Association (AFFA) supported the change, noting that cancer rates among firefighters are between three and five times the rates among the general population and they contract these diseases much earlier in life.

“This coverage gives firefighters peace of mind that their families will be looked after should they succumb to this occupational disease,” said AFFA Secretary Brad Hoekstra.

Firefighters with cancer

Editor’s note: The following fact sheet was published by the provincial government.

If you are or have been a firefighter and have one of the primary site cancers listed in the following chart, the cancer is presumed to be an occupational disease and you may be eligible for WCB-Alberta benefits. The presumption applies to full time, front-line firefighters who have been regularly exposed to the hazards of a fire scene, other than a forest fire, for the minimum period shown for the specified cancer.



Primary leukemia

5 years

Primary site brain cancer

10 years

Primary site bladder cancer

15 years

Primary site lung cancer in “non-smokers*”

15 years

Primary site ureter cancer

15 years

Primary site kidney cancer

20 years

Primary site colorectal cancer

20 years

A primary non-Hodgkins lymphoma

20 years

ADDED in 2010

Primary site testicular cancer

20 years

Primary site esophageal cancer

25 years

If you are or have been a firefighter and have a cancer other than a primary site cancer listed in the chart, or if you have one of the primary site cancer listed and do not meet the minimum period of exposure that is required, the presumptions do not apply. Such claims are adjudicated like any regular occupational disease claim and eligibility for compensation will be determined based on the merits of the case.

For more information see Section 24.1 of the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Firefighters’ Primary Site Cancer Regulation, which are available at

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