WHEREAS the Workers Compensation Board of Alberta provides presumptive coverage for full-time career firefighters for various forms of cancers associated with the hazards involved in firefighting;
WHEREAS the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia provide presumptive coverage of cancers related to firefighting for full time career and volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters;
WHEREAS the Province of Alberta currently has approximately 10,000 volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters and approximately 3,500 full-time career firefighters;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge the province to amend the current Alberta Workers Compensation Board policy to have volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters receive presumptive coverage for the identified cancers currently provided for full-time career firefighters.
This resolution is requesting the province review the current policy of the Alberta Workers Compensation Board. This current policy is historical in nature and does not provide coverage equally for volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters in Alberta. Studies have shown that the cancers that are listed in the presumptive coverage for full-time career firefighters are also prevalent in volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters.
Volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters are the backbone of emergency sevices in the majority of rural municipalities in Alberta. Without these highly skilled and dedicated volunteers, rural Alberta communities would not be provided the level of emergency services currently enjoyed. Volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters are also the backbone of emergency services when disasters such as flooding, train derailments, tornados and other emergencies affect Alberta municipalities.
it is not uncommon for volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters to attend the same or more fires and emergencies as their full-time career counterparts. This means that for 10,000 dedicated volunteers, their efforts are not valued equally. Recruitment and retention of these highly skilled and dedicated volunteers is becoming more difficult. Providing this coverage will assist Alberta municipalities in providing a benefits package which is commensurate with the risks and hazards associated with firefighting and emergency scene operations.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue. The AUMA has a similar resolution awaiting vote at the upcoming convention.
Employment and Immigration:
The basic tenet for determining workers’ compensation in any claim is an evaluation of workplace exposures/conditions and an injury or illness. The evaluation needs
to establish that the health problem is “more likely than not” related to work. The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) determines work-relatedness through a review of the working conditions and requirements and all available medical information. This applies to firefighters and all workers covered under the
Workers’ Compensation Act. Each case is adjudicated using its unique facts. Existing workers compensation legislation extends full benefits to any firefighter whose injury or illness is work-related, including volunteer/paid-on-call firefighters. Presumptive status is not a requirement for compensation.
Generally, the creation of presumptive legislation is evidence-based. The WCB concluded an extensive search and review of research related to firefighter cancers and tabled a report in 2006, and no studies were found that included part-time firefighters. WCB and Employment and Immigration continue to monitor this issue and encourage any interested parties to share, for our review, any evidence that establishes a causal relationship between firefighters’ cancer and part-time exposures.
In May 2011, the Alberta Government passed legislation to update the Workers’ Compensation Board list of cancers presumed to be work-related. This means coverage now extends to Alberta’s 10,000 volunteer, part-time and casual firefighters along with the province’s 2,500 full-time firefighters. As such, the AAMDC deems response to the resolution as accepted.