Supporting Alberta's firefighters

By Shaye Anderson, MLA for Leduc-Beaumont

I was recently mentioning that I was thankful for the warmer weather - clearly, that was a mistake! While I’m happy to spend a bit of time outside walking my dog and playing with my kids, I’m lucky that for the most part, I get to spend my time at work, nice and warm, indoors.

And when it’s cold outside like it’s been for the past couple weeks, I’m reminded just how lucky I am every time I hear the sirens outside. Emergency services workers like firefighters, EMTs and peace officers don’t always have the luxury of a heated workspace. And in communities like Leduc and Beaumont, there are firefighters who answer the call in the middle of the night not because it’s their career, but because they care enough about their community to volunteer for the job.

It’s important that we recognize all the hard work of emergency services personnel, and do what we can to support them.

Recently, the Government of Alberta made some changes to the workers’compensation benefits and other supports available to our firefighters. Albertans know that firefighters represent what is best about us: courage, valour and sacrifice. Each and every day across our province, firefighters take tremendous risks to keep us all safe and secure. Many of these risks are not always visible come the end of the shift. In fact, many of these risks involve ailments that take years to develop.

Tragically, firefighters are six times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, and too many develop reproductive cancers after years of protecting our families and communities. These heroic men and women, many of whom are volunteers, brave dangerous situations in order to protect the public and we owe it to them to ensure they’re taken care of in their time of need.

This is why our government is making sure that firefighters who contract ovarian and cervical cancer will now receive workers’compensation benefits and supports. We’re also ensuring that the minimal exposure period is now reduced from 20 years to 10 years for these forms of reproductive cancers to be covered.

For the brave women and men who protect and serve Albertans every day as firefighters, our government has your backs, and we have your families’ backs. That’s why we’re making Alberta a leader in Canada by improving coverage for those who fight for us.

We are ensuring that firefighters, regardless of their gender, get the help and support they need. Just as firefighters work every day to keep us safe, your government will never stop working to make life better for them.

First published Feb. 9, 2018, in the Leduc Representative