OHS Canada Magazine

Nova Scotia expands presumptive coverage for cancer, heart attacks for firefighters


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Workplace injury insurance for Nova Scotia firefighters and their families will soon cover more types of cancer and heart attacks, the province said.

Presumptive coverage is being increased from six types of cancer to 19, and also includes heart attacks that occur within 24 hours of an emergency call.

“Firefighters put their health at risk and their lives on the line every day,” said Premier Tim Houston.

“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.”

13 additional cancers covered

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

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The 13 types of cancer being added are:

  • esophageal
  • lung
  • testicular
  • ureter
  • breast
  • multiple myeloma
  • prostate
  • skin
  • ovarian
  • cervical
  • penile
  • thyroid
  • pancreatic.

There is existing coverage for bladder, brain, colorectal and kidney cancer, leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“About 6,600 firefighters and their families will benefit from these changes, making Nova Scotia one of the leading provinces in Canada for presumptive coverage for firefighters,” said Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration. “I’d like to thank our firefighters for helping to advance these changes, and for the sacrifices they and their families make every day to keep us safe.”

The amended regulations take effect July 1. Firefighters with a cancer diagnosis since July 1, 2021, will be able to access the expanded benefits.

Province to cover initial liability

The province will cover the total liability cost of $80.6 million for four fiscal years. 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,” said Capt. Brendan Meagher, President, Halifax Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 268. “On behalf of firefighters and our families, I thank the government for keeping their word to Nova Scotia’s firefighters. This is a great day.”

There are more than 6,000 volunteer firefighters and 600 paid firefighters in Nova Scotia.

The province will cover $67.4 million in initial liability costs for municipalities in 2021-22, and $4.4 million in annual liability costs for 2022-23, 2023-24, and 2024-25.