Liberals introduce amendment to Workers’ Compensation Act

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The move will put heart disease for firefighters back on the list of presumptive diseases recognized by WorkSafeBC

Victoria: Many time firefighters suffer heart attacks while performing their duties. The heat and suffocation take toll on the health of a firefighter and in some cases repercussions can be seen almost immediately. BC government has initiated a move to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act. On Mar 10 the government tabled the legislation to restore heart disease in firefighters as a presumptive disease recognized by WorkSafeBC.
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.

Once the proposed legislation is passed, it would make the province the only jurisdiction in Canada to have a presumption for heart disease embedded in its workers’ compensation legislation.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour said, “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.”

Michael Hurley, President, BC Professional Firefighters Association welcomed the move by the government, he said, “Fire-fighters 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.”
Heart attack was taken off the list for eligible compensation 15 years ago.