The Surrey Now-Leader:
Jenn Dawkins remembers the spring day in 2016 when she joined four other female firefighters at British Columbia’s legislature to lobby for the inclusion of breast cancer as a presumed occupational illness covered by the province’s health and safety agency for workers.
Dawkins was diagnosed with breast cancer three years later.
“I went through a mastectomy and four months of chemotherapy during the early stage of the pandemic,” she said. Reconstructive surgery followed.
Dawkins now wants other firefighters to be protected with legislation that makes cancer a presumed occupational hazard because of exposure to known carcinogens. Her counterparts in Quebec have the least protection of any jurisdiction in Canada.
Dawkins was covered for workers’ compensation benefits because a year after her trip to the legislature, B.C. added breast cancer, along with prostate cancer and multiple myeloma, to the list of presumptive cancers affecting firefighters. That meant they no longer had to prove their disease was directly linked to a high-risk job.
Each province and territory has its own list of cancers that are presumed to be linked to firefighting because workers’ compensation legislation is not federally enacted.
The International Association of Fire Fighters and the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs are supporting Quebec member of Parliament Sherry Romanado’s recent introduction of a private member’s bill focusing on national standards for occupational cancers linked to firefighting.
Read the full story here.