Extend Workers' Compensation Board Benefits to Volunteer Firefighters
Therefore be it resolved that the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association lobby the Government of Saskatchewan to change Saskatchewan Workersâ€™ Compensation Board policies so that all benefits available to full-time, active members of an urban fire department are also provided to volunteer firefighters.
Section 29.1 of The Workersâ€™ Compensation Act 1979, establishes a rebuttal presumption for the adjudication of claims for certain cancers and heart injuries, when submitted by fulltime members of a fire department as defined in The Fire Department Act. Volunteer firefighter claims are not adjusted under Section 29.1 of the Act, however â€œmembers of a municipal volunteer fire brigadeâ€ are included in the definition of a â€œworkerâ€ under the Act. Therefore, when a volunteer fire fighter (or dependent spouse) submits a cancer or heart injury claim, the WCB is still responsible for gathering all of the information available to adjudicate the claim. Each claim must therefore be considered on its own merits. When there is disagreement with respect to the decision made on a claim, there is an opportunity for the decision to be reviewed through the appeals process. The WCB is not able to adopt policies with respect to the adjudication of volunteer fire fighter claims that would conflict with the Act. While consideration have been given to extending the benefit of the rebuttable presumption clause in Section 29.1 to volunteer fire fighters, this has not been done because there was no foundation of scientific evidence to support this. The information regarding this will continue to be monitored to determine whether a change to the Act should be considered at a future time. I have provided a copy of your correspondence to Mr. Peter Fedreko, CEO of the Workersâ€™ Compensation Board and would encourage you to be in direct contact with the WCB if you have questions in the future. Recently, I have indicated the next â€œCommittee of Reviewâ€ will be appointed in 2010. This will provide all stakeholders, including SUMA the opportunity to make recommendation for changes to The Workersâ€™ Compensation Act and the related WCB policies, including the question addressed in the SUMA resolution.