Yukon Weekly

NDP appeals to add wildland firefighters in extended workers compensation

Key Takeaway:

  • Yukon First Nations Wildfire and The Whitehorse Firefighters Association are calling on firefighters to be covered under the list of workplace cancers of the NDP.
  • The government is currently rewriting the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Act, allowing for changes.

Yukon First Nations Wildfire and The Whitehorse Firefighters Association are calling on firefighters to be covered under the list of workplace cancers of the NDP.

“Within all firefighting aviation, marine, industrial, structural, urban interface, and wildland, we’re all doing the same difficult job. You get a lot of scars, some evident and some not, doing this job, and I think it’s essential that we’re supporting those folks,” said Chad Thomas, CEO of Yukon First Nations Wildfire.

Thomas explained that being a firefighter who has fought both urban and rural fires, he is also a cancer survivor. He explained that he was lucky to have support from family and friends, but he faced a battle with the Workers Compensation Board.

The government is currently rewriting the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Act, allowing for changes. The updated legislation passed the second reading on Oct. 25 but still has to be reported by the committee to receive the third reading and consent.

 The term firefighter in the legislation is termed as “someone who is a full-time firefighter, a part-time firefighter.

Wildland forest firefighters fight for forest fires exclusively but are not covered under the Act section, including presumptive cancers.

This means that when a firefighter has a specific kind of cancer, it’s assumed that their work has played a role, and compensation is noticed.

“Including these wildland firefighters in our boldness would increase the costs for employers in these certain industries, and those employers who are affected were not consulted,” he said.

“Of course, from our side at WCB, we are continuing to manage all the research and the health issues that are faced by the wildland firefighters and continue to make these guidelines to the government,” Price said.

In the House on October. 25, Minister Richard Mostyn acknowledged the request to include wildland fire. Still, he said he was reluctant to make changes on the fly that were not necessarily based on scientific evidence or cost.

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“There is an evolution taking place in that field in a matter of months; there will be another change or a new approach to WCB where maybe they take presumptive cancers,” he said.

NDP leader Kate White said Wednesday should modify the legislation quickly.

“The Yukon has a rare opportunity to do right for wildland firefighters. The legislation is open and on the same floor as the Legislative Assembly. We’re asking to remove one sentence so that wildland firefighters can benefit from the same protection and the coverage as all other firefighters in the territory,” said White.

But they have also signaled many times that they will not consider adding wildland firefighters under the presumptive cancer section. So we disagree,” she said.

Source-CTV News

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