Tuesday, March 11, 2014

BC Gov't News

All About Heart

Firefighters get recognition for health problems 

Released by the Gov't of BC/Voice file photo



A firefighter is exposed to smoke at a chimney fire in November last year.


he Government of British Columbia today will table legislation under the Workers Compensation Act to restore heart disease in firefighters as a presumptive disease recognized by WorkSafeBC.

This proposed amendment to the Workers Compensation Act fulfils Government’s election commitment to restore heart disease in firefighters – including forest firefighters – to the list of presumptive diseases recognized by WorkSafeBC.

“Our government appreciates the vitally important work that firefighters do for the people of our province. Firefighters expose themselves to significant hazards, and we want to provide further protection for these men and women who help to keep our communities safe by recognizing heart disease and heart injury as presumptive diseases,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour in a release on Tuesday.

Under the proposed amendment, if a firefighter suffers from heart disease or a heart injury – including a heart attack – it will be presumed to be due to their work as a firefighter unless the contrary is proved.

Some of the other key features of the legislation are as follows:

• Proposed amendments will provide presumptions for heart disease and for heart injury including heart attacks.
• The presumptions will apply if the claimant was employed as a firefighter at or immediately before the date of disablement from heart injury or disease.
• This legislation will thus support B.C. firefighters in receiving workers’ compensation should they suffer from heart disease or heart injury as a result of their work.
• The presumption will be available to local government firefighters as well as forest firefighters.
• Finally, the presumption will apply to eligible firefighters who first become disabled from heart disease or heart injury on or after the day the legislation comes into force on Royal Assent.

B.C. continues to be a leader in recognizing occupational diseases associated with long-term employment as a firefighter and the proposed legislation if passed would make the province the only jurisdiction in Canada to have a presumption for heart disease embedded in its workers’ compensation legislation.

“Firefighters are exposed to a real toxic combination through their work on a daily basis. This, along with the heat and mental stressors faced by the profession, means that heart injuries due to the nature of the job are a reality for firefighters. We have always known that when we go to work our health is at risk. Having heart presumption restored is so important to firefighters because it means that while we are fighting to save our own lives we will not have the added stress of fighting a WorkSafeBC claim at the same time. This will allow a firefighter to concentrate on what he or she needs to, which is a full recovery. We thank Premier Clark, Minister Bond and the B.C. government for this important piece of legislation,” said Michael Hurley, President, BC Professional Firefighters Association.


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