**** CNS Media Release
Amendments Support Volunteer Firefighters
Firefighters help keep Nova Scotians safe every day, putting their own health and safety at risk. That is why government is ensuring all volunteer firefighters have access to Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) injury insurance coverage.
Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, Labi Kousoulis, proposed amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act today, Oct.17, that will ensure all volunteer firefighters have access to WCB workplace injury insurance. This coverage includes access to the cancer presumption.
“Right now, firefighters across the province have different levels of coverage depending on where they live,” said Mr. Kousoulis. “They put their lives on the line for us. In turn, these changes will ensure they are supported and have access to coverage when they need it.”
The changes will also expand the definition of firefighter to include federal firefighters, giving them access to cancer presumptions and create authority to limit and extend presumption through regulation. Government will be consulting this fall and winter regarding expanding the list of cancers.
“The firefighters of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax are exposed to the same dangers as our municipal counterparts. This coverage will offer much needed care to federal firefighters who suffer from the same consequences to our health. I would like to thank Minister Kousoulis for taking the time to sit with us and understand our concerns.”
– Ryan Stewart, CFB Halifax firefighter and president of the Union of National Defence Employees Local 80412
“Every day firefighters across the province put the lives of fellow Nova Scotians ahead of their own. These changes will provide peace of mind to volunteer fire firefighters knowing that they are also protected. This is a valuable step forward that will have a real and lasting impact.”
– Troy Robertson, volunteer firefighter
“The Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia applauds the province for the introduction of legislation to bring all firefighters in the province under WCB coverage. As the situations that volunteer firefighters are required to respond to increase, the risks they are exposed to increase as well. WCB coverage will provide a level of financial security should an event occur, as well as offer a wide range of support services as a firefighter recuperates and returns to active duty.”
– Jim Roper, president, Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia
— there are about 700 paid firefighters in Nova Scotia
— there are more than 6,000 volunteer firefighters in Nova Scotia — about half do not have WCB coverage, though some have private workplace insurance
— the starting cost of WCB coverage is estimated at $48 per volunteer year
— as an example, a fire department with 120 volunteers would pay $5,760 per year