Alberta expands cancer compensation aid and benefits for firefighters
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CALGARY — Alberta is expanding benefits for firefighters facing heightened cancer risks on the job.
Premier Rachel Notley says firefighters who get ovarian and cervical cancer will now receive workers' compensation benefits and supports, making Alberta the leader in Canada on that front.
The minimum exposure period will be 10 years for those cancers.
The province is also reducing the minimum exposure period to 10 years from 20 for testicular cancers, putting Alberta in line with other jurisdictions.
Craig Macdonald, head of the Alberta Firefighters Association, lauded the changes.
Macdonald says the biggest danger facing modern firefighters is long-term effects of exposure to burning of chemicals and plastics.
"A century ago, typically homes were furnished with wood, steel, and glass," says Macdonald. "Today, it's full of plastics, foams, and coatings which create a toxic soup of carcinogens when they burn.
"Cancer is the leading cause of death in our profession."
Eight out of 10 Alberta firefighters are volunteers and almost one in 10 is female.