Nova Scotia moves to protect firefighters

Joins Manitoba and Alberta in extending workers’ compensation benefits to firefighters who contract certain types of cancer

Nova Scotia’s government has introduced legislation that will give better workers’ compensation coverage for both paid and volunteer firefighters who develop job-related diseases.

Firefighters who contract certain types of cancers will be eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits. According to the province, studies show that firefighters are more likely to develop cancer from exposure to certain chemicals in fires.

“Firefighters perform a valuable service to their communities,” said Ron Russell, Nova Scotia’s Environment and Labour Minister. “We want to ensure they have the best possible insurance and health coverage available.”

The new legislation will help firefighters and their families by supplementing wages, providing medical care and covering medical expenses.

While Manitoba and Alberta have similar legislation, Nova Scotia said it will be the first to cover volunteer firefighters. Seven professional fire departments and more than 130 volunteer fire departments across the province will be eligible to benefit from the new legislation.

Benefits can include a pension up to a maximum of $41,800.

According to the provincial government, the incidence of cancer is three times higher for firefighters than the normal population. The increased incidence has been linked to exposure to plastics and other chemical-based products that are common in homes, industrial sites and businesses.

All firefighters in Nova Scotia are required to use protective equipment, including a special breathing apparatus, when fighting fires.

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