Canadian Cancer Survivors Network urge adoption of Federal cancer strategy

RMWB Fire Truck -file photo
RMWB Fire Truck -file photo

The Canadian Cancer Survivors Network (CCSN) is urging Governments across the country to begin implementing a new cancer strategy for firefighters.

The Federal government recently proclaimed the “National Framework for Cancers linked to Firefighting Act” (Bill C-224) which aims to protect firefighters by establishing a blueprint for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting.

“During COVID-19 we witnessed the interruption of cancer care delivery to patients,” says CCSN President & CEO Jackie Manthorne.

“Now, after the worst wildfire season in Canadian history, we’re all witnessing the risk of structural and wildland firefighters’ developing cancers due to occupational exposure.”

The CCSN is urging all governments to urgently implement the new system, as firefighters face increased cancer risk with every call.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) initially identified a Canadian action plan to safeguard firefighters from hazardous chemicals.

In 2022, the IARC elevated the occupational exposure of firefighting to its most severe classification: Group 1, signifying it as “carcinogenic to humans.”

Key elements of the new national framework include the prohibition of chemical flame retardants, the creation of safer alternatives, investment in research and surveillance, the identification of best practices, information dissemination, and heightened awareness.

“The federal government has taken a step in the right direction with the introduction of the National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting Act,” adds Manthorne.

“Today, we urgently ask governments from across Canada to expedite their efforts and implement this new framework in response to the increased cancer risk that firefighters face.”

The group is also calling on Health Canada to enforce stricter exposure limits for carcinogens encountered by firefighters.

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