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Letter | Report to Minister Peters on the Treatment of Firefighter Cancer Claims by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

  • Issued: July 14, 2006
  • Content last reviewed: June 2009

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The Honourable Steve Peters M.P.P.
Minister of Labour
400 University Avenue
14th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1T7

Dear Minister Peters:

Review of the Firefighter Cancer Claims

Please find enclosed my review of firefighter cancer claims.

I share your views that firefighters are an integral part of our community. They risk their lives to save others on a daily basis. We acknowledge their heroism and contribution to the communities they serve in the province of Ontario.

All stakeholders I spoke to agreed with the important role that firefighters perform. However, stakeholders are divided on whether the current practice of adjudicating firefighter cancer claims at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board on a case-by-case basis should be replaced by a rebuttable presumption that the cancer is related to exposure from firefighting.

In accordance with your direction, my report provides you with a cross-jurisdictional reference of how five Canadian provinces currently treat firefighter cancer claims through presumptive legislation. In an accompanying binder, a comprehensive inventory of scientific literature and studies on firefighter cancers has been compiled. Finally, a summary of the comments heard from fire sector stakeholders and representatives of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has been provided for your review.

In meeting with stakeholders, reviewing the information on presumptive legislation and reviewing the scientific literature, it is clear that the issue is complex and impacts several stakeholders.

My report provides a thorough overview. Given the time parameters provided however, additional information or follow up with stakeholders and direct discussions with the five provinces that have presumptive legislation may be helpful in considering whether a change to the current process is required.

In addition, it was beyond the scope of my review to determine whether the change proposed by the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association could be done by a regulatory amendment or whether an amendment to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act would also be required.

Thank you for the opportunity to assist you with understanding this important issue. Upon review of my report, I look forward to speaking with you.

Sincerely,

“Mario Racco”

Mario G. Racco M.P.P.
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour

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