Bill 25 – The Workers Compensation Amendment Act (Wildfire Firefighters) – which expands presumptive WCB coverage to include those who work in Manitoba’s Wildfire Service, has now been proclaimed.

The amendments to the Act remove the exclusion of Wildfire Firefighters in the presumptive heart injury and cancer provisions, while supporting amendments were also made to the Minimum Periods of Employment and Non-Smoking — Firefighters and OFC Personnel Regulation.

Both the Act and Regulation amendments will come into effect on January 1, 2024.

“It’s been a long time coming for our members in Manitoba’s Wildfire Service,” said MGEU President Kyle Ross. “These are workers who routinely face hazardous conditions on the job and repeated exposures to smoke, toxins, and harmful chemicals, all of which can have devastating impacts on their health.”

While urban firefighters have been provided with such presumptive coverage for years, forest firefighters in Manitoba remained ineligible. The process to right this historic wrong began at the MGEU’s 2022 Convention, when delegates passed a resolution to lobby for amendments to the Act.

“On behalf of our members, I want to thank the Manitoba Federation of Labour and the MLAs of all political stripes who helped make this possible,” said Ross. “Providing presumptive heart injury and cancer coverage is the least we can do for these Manitobans who work tirelessly to keep communities safe and protect our forests and property.”

MGEU members who work in the provincial Wildfire Service include Fire Rangers, Helitac Officers, Area Fire Managers, Air Attack Officers, Fire Operations Managers, and Conservation Officers.

Any member who has a question about this presumptive coverage or the claims process, should contact the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba at 204-954-4321 or 1-855-954-4321 (toll-free).