Changes to the Workers Compensation Act that further protect firefighters by expanding the list of presumptive diseases have now been fully implemented with the passing of a new regulation, Labour and Immigration Minister Nancy Allan announced today.

“Our government has worked to become a national leader in workers compensation coverage to protect Manitoba’s firefighters,” said Allan.

“The health hazards that firefighters are exposed to have been well established and firefighters are now further protected under this expanded legislation.”

The new changes to the Workers Compensation Act expand the list of presumptive injuries – the listing of specific illnesses and injuries presumed to be caused by firefighting – to include primary site esophageal and testicular cancers. These cancers develop after regular employment exposure over many years. The province has set the minimum periods of employment at 25 years for esophageal cancer and 10 years for testicular cancer.

“Manitoba has again become the leader in North America in dealing with proper workers compensation rights for firefighters diagnosed with occupational disease,” said Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg. “The government has truly raised the bar for other jurisdictions across North America.”

In 2002, Manitoba became the first jurisdiction to have a firefighter presumption including brain, bladder and kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia. In 2005, the Workers Compensation Act was amended to expand the presumption to part-time and volunteer firefighters and to add ureter, colorectal cancers, lung cancers in non-smokers and heart injuries within 24 hours of an emergency response.

“The province will continue to support our firefighters who face safety risks in their service to Manitobans each and every day,” said Allan.