Nova Scotia adds 13 types of cancer to workplace insurance coverage for firefighters


Nova Scotia is adding 13 types of cancer to its workplace injury insurance for firefighters.

The provincial government says on Tuesday it is acting on its commitment to increase presumptive coverage to 19 cancers from six and is also covering heart attacks that occur within 24 hours of an emergency call.

The additional coverage will be in amendments to regulations under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The cancers being added are esophageal, lung, testicular, ureter, breast, multiple myeloma, prostate, skin, ovarian, cervical, penile, thyroid and pancreatic.

There is currently coverage for bladder, brain, colorectal and kidney cancer, as well as leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Labor Minister Jill Balser says about 6,600 firefighters and their families will benefit from the changes, which are scheduled to take effect on July 1.

“Firefighters put their health at risk and their lives on the line every day,” Premier Tim Houston said in a news release. “Those who protect us should, in turn, be protected by their government and have access to the workplace injury coverage they need when they need it.”

Under the changes, firefighters with a cancer diagnosis since July 1, 2021, will be able to access the expanded benefits.

The provincial government will cover the total liability cost of $80.6 million for four fiscal years. It said municipalities will not incur additional liability costs until 2025-26.

“These protections are the most significant improvements in firefighter presumptive cancer coverage in Canadian history, bringing Nova Scotia’s firefighters from the least protected in Canada to the most protected,” Capt. Brendan Meagher, president of the Halifax Professional Firefighters Local 268, said in the news release.

According to the Labor Department, more than 6,000 volunteer firefighters and 600 paid firefighters work in Nova Scotia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2022.

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