Alex Forrest, Canadian trustee for the International Association of Firefighters, right, says at a press conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 17, that the Yukon has “fallen behind” by not providing coverage to firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News file)

Expanding cancer coverage for firefighters is a possibility: WCB

A public engagement period closes on Jan. 16

Extending coverage to firefighters grappling with cancer could be recommended to the Yukon government following a public engagement process, according to an official at the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Two pieces of legislation are currently under review, part of which means modernizing workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety, said Andrew Robulack, manager of social marketing and communications at the board.

He characterized the review as “a wide open book.”

“If through evidence collection and analysis we identify that there are major gaps that need to be closed to improve and modernize these systems, we would certainly advise government on them,” he said.

“In comparison to other jurisdictions we can certainly acknowledge that we don’t cover as many types of cancer under the presumption as other parts of Canada do.”

According to local and national firefighters, the Yukon has “fallen behind” in not covering firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer linked to their work. On Dec. 17, they called on the WCB to revise legislation in order to cover an additional seven types of occupational cancers like prostate and multiple myeloma.

Yukon’s legislation was last overhauled in 2011. Since then, four Whitehorse firefighters have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. But because the legislation is outdated, they weren’t able to obtain workers’ compensation, said Alex Forrest, Canadian trustee for the International Association of Firefighters, said this week during a press conference.

Robulack said the meeting on Dec. 17 was an information gathering session as part of a public engagement period, the results of which, via a report, will be provided to the government.

The engagement period closes on Jan. 16.

“At this point in time we’re not performing any analysis on the input and we really don’t have an opinion on the matter at this point,” he said. “We’re encouraging all forms of input into this review.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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