What’s New: September 2023

Published Categorized as News

2023 Policy Consultations

The Policy Regulation & Research Department (PRRD) has public consultations on key topics in 2023. The PRRD’s Discussion Papers on each policy (with background &  options for policy changes) are set out below. 

NOTE: The PRRD’s current workplan also includes a review of ASTD policy in 2024. Stay tuned!

Federal Bill C-224 (June 2023) – Consistent cancer presumptions for wildfire firefighters?

On June 23, 2023,  Parliment passed Bill C-224 to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting and to designate January as the “Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month”.

This Act seeks to correct the vast discrepancies in provincial compensation legislation about which types of cancers are presumed to be caused by the occupation of firefighting. Given that 95% of line-of-duty deaths from firefighting are attributable to cancer1 and that firefighters are now fighting wildfires in across the land, this is an important initiative. For the full story, see the CBC report: Cancer kills firefighters but coverage varies by province. A new law seeks to change that.

NOTE: In B.C., the presumptive cancer coverage for firefighters is found in the Firefighters’ Occupational Disease Regulation. In 2022, the B.C. government added cervical, ovarian, penile, pancreatic and thyroid cancers to this regulation, for a total of 18 presumptive cancers for firefighters. The B.C. coverage is substantial but it does not include some cancers now covered by other provinces – such as mesothelioma and soft tissue sarcoma. 

  1. From the International Association of FireFighters (IAFF) ↩︎

“Cluster advocacy”and new alliances for compensation reform

A new approach to proving work-related causation for cancer and other diseases is called “Cluster Advocacy”, where advocates bring together “clusters” of injured workers who have all been exposed to the same toxins in the workplace. This was the approach used in the successful cancer claims of 3 health care workers in B.C., accepted by WCAT and the Supreme Court of Canada. British Columbia (Workers’ Compensation Tribunal vs. Fraser Health Authority  2016 SCC 25). 

In 2021, eight clusters of injured workers in Ontario came together to form the Occupational Disease Reform Alliance (ODRA). ODRA calls for a fix a broken compensation system, with its systemic denial of coverage for diseases caused by toxic exposures. This move unites several significant toxic investigations, including the McIntrye Powder Project from the Occupational Cancer Research Centre and the Ontario Rubber Workers Project from the OHCOW (the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers). These and other cluster investigations are described in a report by the United Steelworkers.