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Sask. government adds 6 cancers to occupational list for Sask. fire fighters

The Saskatchewan government has announced it is adding six cancers to the list of those deemed occupational for the province’s fire fighting profession.

The government announced Thursday that pancreatic, thyroid, penile and laryngeal cancer along with mesothelioma and soft tissue sarcoma will be added to the list for presumptive cancer coverage.

“It’s a huge announcement for us. It means that firefighters that get cancer won’t have to prove that they got cancer from the job,” said Aron Gidluck of the Saskatchewan Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association (SPFFPA). “This presumes that you got cancer from your profession.”

In a release, association president Lloyd Zwack said the added coverage will help ensure fair compensation to fire fighters who contract those cancers and their families.

“We’re grateful to the Government of Saskatchewan for recognizing a broader range of cancers linked to our profession,” Zwack said. “Cancer is an epidemic in the fire service in Saskatchewan as it is across Canada, and this new coverage will ensure those affected by these cancers receive the care and the compensation they deserve.”

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The province’s announcement brings the number of cancers deemed occupational among Saskatchewan professional fire fighters to 22, a new national benchmark.

The SPFFPA said it has been lobbying for improved coverage since 1994, adding that it’s exciting news for the association to know Saskatchewan now leads the way in cancer coverage.

“Saskatchewan has done something that no one else has done in Canada,” Gidluck said. “They will be leading the way now in cancer coverage. But one of the things that they’ve done is they’ve looked at the other provinces and taken any cancers that any other province has covered, Saskatchewan will now cover.”

Gidluck said in the last 10 years, 502 firefighters have died in the line of duty, and 474 of those deaths were cancer related.

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