WELL DONE Mr Rogers and hope for the future.
EDMONTON — The hazards of Ian Langridge's job have never been a big mystery.
"We realized that there were dangers to the job," the fire captain said Tuesday. "But the dangers of the job were dying in a fire, or being crushed. Cancer was the farthest thing from my mind."
In 2007, Langridge was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Since 2003, colorectal cancer has been among a handful of cancers the province recognizes as a workplace hazard for firefighters.
"Firefighters all across North America die of job-related cancers," said Langridge, 54. "I guess I was lucky."
This week, Leduc-Beaumont-Devon Conservative MLA George Rogers introduced a private member's bill that would expand workers' compensation coverage for Alberta firefighters, from a list of eight coverable cancers to 10.
If passed -- and so far there appears to be support from all parties -- firefighters suffering from testicular and esophageal cancers will receive workers' compensation.
"This is about individual families," Rogers said. "In most cases, sadly by the time these people get these cancers, you're really trying to make life a little easier for their loved ones."
Last June, one of Langridge's colleagues, Al Harris, died of esophageal cancer at age 53. His claim to the Workers Compensation Board, that his cancer was a result of his career fighting fires in Edmonton, had been denied.
Greg Holubowich, the president of the Edmonton Firefighters Union, said he and others across the province have been pushing to change the law for more than a year. (Rogers' private member's bill was first drafted by Edmonton Castle Downs MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, who is now the minister of employment and immigration.)
But Holubowich said as science develops, there will be more cancers that need to be included under the law. For example, more research needs to be done on whether breast cancer can be a risk for female and male firefighters.
"The industry is really aware of the carcinogens being absorbed into the skin," Holubowich said.
"There's always going to be work to be done."
Rogers' private member's bill is expected to be discussed by provincial politicians next month.
He said the changes to the Workers' Compensation Act, as proposed now, would bring Alberta's laws in line with others across the country.
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