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In Canadian first, B.C. firefighters can claim heart disease as work stress

Victoria firefighters Josh Montgomery, left, and Kitt Stringer commemorate those who were lost in the line of duty at the unveiling of a new memorial statue on Feb. 13, 2013.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

The B.C. government will introduce legislation Monday that allows firefighters to claim heart disease, including heart attacks, as job-related stress.

Jobs Minister Shirley Bond says the province will amend the Workers Compensation Act to restore heart disease for firefighters to the list of presumptive diseases recognized by WorkSafeBC.

She says forest firefighters will also be able to make insurance claims if they suffer from heart disease.

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The new legislation means B.C. will become the only jurisdiction in Canada to recognize heart disease as a job-related condition in its worker protection laws.

The province considers other cancers, including leukemia, a job-related stress for firefighters.

B.C. Professional Firefighters Association president Mike Hurley says the inclusion of heart disease as a job-related injury allows firefighters to recover without the added stress of making WorkSafeBC claims.

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