Cancer legislation reaches important milestone in Canadian Parliament

March 9 • 2023

Members of Ottawa Local 162 and Montreal Local 125 and other fire service stakeholders joined MPs Sherry Romanado and Bryan May on Parliament Hill March 8 to celebrate the unanimous passage of Bill C-224 in the House of Commons.

Legislation that proposes a national framework to address occupational cancer in fire fighters reached an important milestone in the Canadian House of Commons Wednesday when it passed Third Reading with a unanimous vote and overwhelming support from all parties.

Introduced by Montreal-area Liberal MP Sherry Romanado in early 2022, Bill C-224, An act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting, proposes a number of measures designed to reduce the incidence of job-related cancer among fire fighters, while promoting equitable compensation for those who contract the disease, regardless of the province or territory in which they serve.

“This is what the mission of the IAFF looks like when we use our political strength to fight for the health and safety of our members,” said General President Edward Kelly. “Cancer is killing fire fighters, and ending this epidemic must be everyone’s priority. Bill C-224 is an important step in saving lives.”

After the vote, which took place with dozens of IAFF fire fighters watching from the Commons Gallery, Bill C-224 will now be passed on to Canada’s Senate to be further studied. The IAFF has already begun working with MP Romanado to elicit support among senators to ensure the bill advances in the legislative process. Once debated and passed by both chambers of Parliament, the bill will move forward to receive Royal Assent before becoming law.

“Addressing occupational cancer is a top priority of the IAFF,” said General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma. “Bill C-224 provides our Canadian sisters and brothers important protections in the fight against cancer and is another example of how our union is working for our members and their families.”

Bill C-224 proposes a range of measures to not only explain the link between cancer and firefighting, but also to identify educational needs of healthcare and other professionals for prevention and treatment; promote regular cancer screening for fire fighters; and provide research, data collection, and the sharing of information and knowledge about cancer and its effects on fire fighters. The bill also proposes proclaiming January as Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month in Canada.

“The IAFF is grateful to MP Romanado for introducing this critical legislation and to all the MPs who supported it,” said Kelly. “We now hope for swift deliberation and passage in the Senate so it can benefit our 26,000 Canadian members and their families. Time is of the essence.”