Workers Compensation Proposed for Firefighters
The Province has proposed amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act to allow WCB coverage to volunteer firefighters.
There are about 700 paid firefighters and 6,000 volunteers, half of whom are not covered by WCB insurance protection.
The Minister of Labour says, “Firefighters across the province have different levels of coverage depending on where they live.” Labi Kousoulis added, “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.”
This coverage includes access to the cancer presumption.
The President, Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia applauds the move. Jim Roper says, “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.”
The legislation provides access to WCB programs, but it does not cover the cost. One estimate suggests it would cost about $48 per year for each firefighter. With an average of 30 members, that would cost $1,440 for a fire department in Cumberland County.
While well intentioned, the cost may be prohibitive to rural fire departments.
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