May 29, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Government has introduced the Firefighters' Compensation Act, Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault announced today.
"This bill was prepared in keeping with our June 2007 commitment to introduce legislation to address the need for cancer coverage for firefighters," said Arseneault. "The legislation will modernize New Brunswick's compensation and benefits system by providing coverage to active and retired firefighters who have served the required number of years of service, and who are diagnosed with a specified cancer or who suffer from a heart attack within 24 hours of an emergency response.
"I am proud to bring forward these changes, making New Brunswick the seventh province to introduce such measures within their workers' compensation legislation."
Under the legislation, assessments will be calculated and levied against municipalities, rural communities and local service districts on a per-firefighter basis. WorkSafeNB will administer the program.
"We greatly appreciate the work of all our firefighters in helping to keep New Brunswick safe," said Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General John W. Foran. "I am pleased with the collaboration among government departments, firefighter representatives and municipalities in bringing about this important coverage for our firefighters."
WorkSafeNB is responsible for the administration of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission Act, the Workers' Compensation Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and corresponding regulations.
"The New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs (NBAFC) is pleased that the New Brunswick government is another province to introduce such legislation," said Jody Price, NBAFC president. "This act will help protect those who protect New Brunswickers. The legislation protects our firefighters who serve, both career and volunteer, without the same degree of right to refuse unsafe work, as provided in traditional occupations."
Local Government Minister Bernard LeBlanc said the province is fortunate to have so many committed individuals who put their health and lives on the line to protect the lives and property of New Brunswickers.
"It is good that municipalities and firefighters now have a mechanism in place to provide protective coverage to these volunteers and professionals, along with their families, in case they develop cancer or have a heart attack within 24 hours of a fire response," he said.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Marie-Josée Groulx, communications, Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, 506-444-3465; Mary Tucker, communications, WorksafeNB, 506-632-2828.