National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting Act

An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting


Sherry Romanado  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill.


This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment provides for the development of a national framework designed to raise awareness of cancers linked to firefighting with the goal of improving access for firefighters to cancer prevention and treatment.
The enactment also designates the month of January, in each year, as “Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month”.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


March 8, 2023 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-224, An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting
June 22, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-224, An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 16th, 2023 / 2:15 p.m.
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Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to speak to Bill C-321, which was introduced by our hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George. Before I proceed further, I would like, on behalf of 838,000 Hindu Canadians, to again acknowledge and thank the hon. member for his support for my private member's motion, which enabled November every year to be recognized as Hindu Heritage Month across Canada.

Bill C-321 seeks to denounce and deter violence against nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, including transit officers or special constables, and other frontline health care staff. It would amend the Criminal Code to require a court to consider as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes the fact that the victim is a health care professional or first responder who was acting in the performance of their duties.

As highlighted in the 2019 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, entitled “Violence Facing Health Care Workers in Canada”, health care workers have a four-times higher rate of workplace violence than any other profession, despite most of this violence being unreported. The report also noted that 61% of nurses who participated in a cross-country survey reported experiencing abuse, harassment or assault in the previous year, and 74% of the paramedics reported experiencing multiple forms of violence annually.

The men and women who serve as health care professionals and first responders play an invaluable role in our society. They are the heroes who rush toward danger while others flee, the ones who provide critical medical care in times of crisis and the ones who maintain law and order to keep our communities safe. They face countless challenges and risks, working tirelessly to protect and preserve life, often at the expense of their own well-being. It is deeply troubling to witness an alarming increase in assaults against these dedicated individuals. They are subjected to physical violence, verbal abuse and threats while carrying out their duties. These attacks not only pose a direct threat to their safety, but also undermine the integrity of our health care system and emergency services.

It is essential that we take a strong stand against such heinous acts and provide a higher level of protection for those who selflessly dedicated their lives to serving others. By amending the Criminal Code, we would send a resounding message that assaults on health care professionals and first responders will not be tolerated. We are acknowledging the unique challenges they face and recognizing the importance of their contributions to society. When passed, the bill would serve as a deterrent, discouraging potential perpetrators from engaging in acts of violence against these essential workers.

Furthermore, by considering assaults against health care professionals and first responders as an aggravating factor during sentencing, we would acknowledge the broader implications of such attacks. These assaults not only cause physical harm to individuals, but also have far-reaching consequences for public safety and the provision of essential services. By recognizing this as an aggravating factor, we would ensure that those who commit these crimes face more significant penalties, reflecting the gravity of their actions and the impact on society as a whole.

Some may suggest that existing laws already provide adequate protection for health care professionals and first responders. However, the stark reality is that assaults against these individuals are on the rise and we must respond with targeted measures that explicitly recognize the unique vulnerabilities they face. By enshrining their protection within the Criminal Code, we would send a clear and unequivocal message that their safety and well-being are of paramount importance.

Moreover, this bill reflects our commitment to creating a safe and supportive environment for health care professionals and first responders. It demonstrates that we value their selfless dedication and are committed to ensuring they can perform their duties without fear of violence or aggression. By enacting this bill, we are standing in solidarity with those who risk their lives to protect ours.

In addition to deterrence and enhanced protection, this bill has the potential to foster cultural change. It sends a powerful message to society, urging us to reflect on the value and respect we afford to those on the front lines of service. It encourages a broader shift in attitudes, promoting a collective sense of responsibility to safeguard those who dedicate their lives to safeguarding us.

The amendment proposed in Bill C-321 is similar to Bill C-3, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, which included as an aggravating factor evidence that the offence was committed against a person who was providing health services. Bill C-3 received royal assent on December 17, 2021. Our government continues to show support to first responders, including with the recent passage of a private member's bill, Bill C-224, the national framework on cancers linked to firefighting act, which passed on March 8, 2023, at third reading.

Bill C-321 applies to the performance of any duty by a first responder or health care worker, not just to cases where the victim was providing health services at the time of the offence. Amendments will make the legislation consistent with the terminology used elsewhere and will provide broad protection so that it does not apply only to health care professionals. As citizens, it is our duty to advocate for the safety and well-being of those who dedicate their lives to caring for us in times of need.

In conclusion, the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code represents a significant step forward in ensuring the safety and well-being of our health care professionals and first responders. By recognizing assaults against them as aggravated offences, we are reaffirming our commitment to protecting those who selflessly serve our communities.

Let us come together as a nation to support this legislation, sending a strong message that we stand united against violence and aggression toward those who sacrifice so much to protect us.

Central York Fire ServicesStatements By Members

June 13th, 2023 / 2 p.m.
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Leah Taylor Roy Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, as provinces across Canada continue to battle wildfires, it has never been more important to recognize the vital role firefighters and fire services play in our communities.

I am proud to congratulate the entire graduating class of 2023 from Central York Fire Services, whose graduation I attended this past week. I congratulate Taylor Dallas, Lindsay Hoffman, Chris Sargent, Bailey Van Praet, Jacob Watson and Trevor Fulcher.

I want to give a special shout-out to Lindsay Hoffman, the only woman in her graduating class. While all six graduates went through an intense nine-week training program, I know that, as a woman, Lindsay overcame even more barriers to get there. I thank Lindsay for being a positive role model for other women.

Central York Fire Services is the backbone of emergency services in Aurora and Newmarket. I am particularly grateful to it as its quick and professional response to an emergency at my home saved my husband's life not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions in 2022, the last time bringing him back from complete cardiac arrest.

I would say to all Canadian firefighters that we will always have their backs, as they have ours. It was heartening that Bill C-224, a national strategy on cancers related to PFAS chemicals in firefighting equipment, introduced by my colleague, the member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, was passed unanimously.

In closing, I thank fire chief Ian Laing and deputy chief Rocco Volpe for their outstanding leadership and hard work, which has made Central York Fire Services one of the best in the country.

Wildfires in CanadaEmergency Debate

June 5th, 2023 / 10:25 p.m.
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Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Madam Speaker, I too want to convey my thanks to members of the Canadian Armed Forces, who are deployed as part of Operation Lentus. I thank the firefighters as well, who are spanning out across the country to fight these wildfires.

One thing we heard during debate on my bill, Bill C-224, was the impact on firefighters after a wildfire. We heard about the fires in Fort Mac and the impact on firefighters, who are now seeing a high incidence of cancer from a lifetime of exposure in such a short amount of time.

People in Ottawa right now having trouble with respiratory problems because of the smog, which is basically across the country. These wildfires are putting people not just at immediate risk, but also at long-term risk. Therefore, could the member opposite elaborate a bit on the indirect effects we are starting to see?

FirefightersStatements by Members

April 27th, 2023 / 2:05 p.m.
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Rechie Valdez Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, I rise to speak about the brave men and women who serve as firefighters in our communities. These courageous individuals put their lives on the line every day to ensure we all remain safe from emergencies. They are the front line of our emergency response system.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to meet with a few of their firefighters and their union from my riding of Mississauga—Streetsville. Our interaction was enlightening and it reinforced my admiration for the invaluable work they do.

Bill C-224 was introduced by the member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne. The bill would establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting. It has passed in the House with unanimous consent and is now in the Senate. As elected officials, we owe it to our firefighters to ensure they receive the support and resources needed to remain healthy and safe.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank firefighters from across Canada for their dedication and continued service to keep us safe.

March 10th, 2023 / 9:25 a.m.
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Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Thank you, Jeff. I want to quickly pivot to the fire chiefs who are here, and the representatives from IAFF.

Thank you to you and all your members for what you do on a daily basis as first responders in the country and really all over the world. My hat's off to them, and I want to give a quick shout-out to the Vaughan Professional Fire Fighters Association here, who we have a great working relationship with.

I'm glad we mentioned Bill C-224, which was passed in the House of Commons. I think that's another great step to recognize the efforts of firefighters.

With regard to your comments, I just want to clarify. With regard to mass timber and any concerns there versus concerns with existing building codes in Canada to make sure that firefighters are kept safe when they are called, it was exactly commented by Mr. Santoro that this is one occupation in which you can't just shy away from a dangerous work situation. Could I get some clarification there, please?

March 10th, 2023 / 9 a.m.
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Keven Lefebvre Fire Chief, Leduc County, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

Good morning. Thank you for inviting the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs here today.

My name is Keven Lefebvre. I'm the fire chief for Leduc County in Alberta. I'm an elected CAFC board member and co-chair of the CAFC’s building codes committee.

I am also a member of the advisory council of Canada’s harmonized building codes board and of the Alberta Safety Codes Council's Building Sub-Council. I'm a master electrician, and I start my 42nd year in the fire service later this month.

I'm joined today by CAFC’s executive director, Dr. Tina Saryeddine.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs represents the country’s 3,200 fire departments through their fire chiefs and through a national advisory council of provincial, territorial and national affiliate organizations like the Department of National Defence, one of the largest owners of federal buildings.

Fire departments vary from small, rural volunteer to large, unionized metro departments. Despite our diversity, we are united in our calling to protect the lives of Canadians.

Bill S-222, in the context of federal properties and public works, is commendable. However, my colleagues and I are fire chiefs, so, as is our proclivity, we prepare for what could happen on the worst day.

First, wood has a special meaning to many of us as Canadians, but we must use it selectively. Outcomes could be disastrous in combustible parking garages containing lithium-ion charging systems, such as electric vehicle or solar storage. Well-intentioned environmental efforts, like using wood shingles in wildland urban interfaces, can contribute to wildfire damage. Buildings in these areas need to follow FireSmart principles and include sprinklers and other detection and prevention methodologies.

Secondly, take the necessary measures to ensure that federal buildings are fully operational post-disaster. Canadians require our government to be operational during and after disasters. The buildings need to be part of the solution, not an additional problem. Specific areas of government are currently looking to enhance and toughen building construction in light of the increasing impact of weather-driven disasters. CAFC's 2022 census showed that of the two million emergency events responded to annually, nearly 10% of these are new environmental emergencies.

If encouraging the use of products through government procurement, ensure that the end use is fully understood. Please ensure this bill doesn’t contradict or duplicate already adopted codes and standards. Some buildings, by code, are required to be specifically non-combustible. Understand that additives, treatments and unintended consequences of construction products could actually prevent the carbon reductions you anticipate or even become toxic in a fire.

In this vein, we would like to thank all MPs for their unanimous vote on Wednesday regarding Bill C-224, an act to establish a framework for firefighter cancers.

Our next ask will be to please support an increase in the volunteer firefighters tax credit. Eighty per cent of the country's fire service is volunteer, and no matter what building material you choose, we need every incentive to help protect response capacity in this country.

Thirdly, in Vancouver the successful introduction of tall wood buildings was accompanied by many resources from public safety engineering, many variances to specific code requirements, and much training. Unless we are considering such resources and training wherever we introduce innovation, we fail in its responsible introduction. As you pass this bill, consider that a firefighter safety objective be placed in the regulations under this act and support the same in the national building code of Canada, as required recently in ministerial mandate letters.

Related to this are the tenability times for firefighters to work within structures in the event of fire and the need to include floor performance standards within the national building code. Firefighters can and have fallen through floors during a fire. Canadians need the same floor performance assurances as are provided for in the U.S. and elsewhere.

As you move forward, please ensure that first responders are made aware of and trained to handle construction fires with the materials and methodologies chosen. This is necessary for appropriate entry, evacuation and response measures.

In preparing for today, my colleagues at Ottawa Fire Services reminded us that replacing existing building components with wood, for example, can impact load, fire spread and other safety calculations negatively.

In closing, we have always believed the same building code should apply to everyone, everywhere. It should be enforced and enforceable. It should have a firefighter safety objective. Firefighter readiness, training and equipment must be considered in preparation for what might happen on a building's worst day. The work you are doing today can help to mitigate future problems.

Thank you.

National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting ActPrivate Members' Business

March 8th, 2023 / 3:25 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 3:26 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-224 under Private Members' Business.

Call in the members.

The House resumed from February 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-224, An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting, be read the third time and passed.

National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting ActPrivate Members' Business

February 15th, 2023 / 6:50 p.m.
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Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank all parties for coming together to get this done. It really has been an experience to bring forward a piece of legislation and have every member of the House support it.

I bet, before I brought forward this bill, Bill C-224, that most of us did not know there was a link between firefighting and cancer. We now have 338 members of Parliament, representing every Canadian, who now know this and can help spread the word to increase awareness.

I want to thank a few people who worked with me behind the scenes on this: Catherine from my office, Trevor and Jean-Luc. A lot of times, when it comes to the work that gets done behind the scenes, they do not get the credit. I want to thank them for everything they did to help me get this across the finish line.

In closing, I have a message for the firefighter in Longueuil who inspired this bill and who celebrated his 50th birthday over the weekend. Happy birthday, Jean‑François. We are almost there.

This bill would save lives. We owe it to firefighters, and I know how proud they will be when this bill becomes law.

National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting ActPrivate Members' Business

February 15th, 2023 / 6:40 p.m.
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Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to be here today to speak to Bill C-224. I want to acknowledge the member who has tabled it. I am proud to serve on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs with her and really respect my Liberal friend. This is a testimony of places where collectively all parties can come together and recognize a need in our country and work together to try to make it a little bit better.

This bill provides for the development of a national framework designed to raise awareness of cancers linked to firefighting and to support improved access for firefighters to cancer prevention and treatment. It would also designate the month of January in every year as the firefighter cancer awareness month.

We know firefighters are killed by cancer around three times more than the general population and that cancer rates among firefighters increase dramatically as they age. This is an important part to remember. We are asking these people to step in the line for us and the outcomes for them are often very dangerous.

Sadly, there is inconsistent recognition of occupational cancers of firefighters across Canada, with each province and territory having a different method. This really concerns me, because we ask these folks to run into the burning building as we are running out, and we need to make sure their health is cared for in a much more effective way.

Brad Collicutt, president of IAFF Local 1298 from the Powell River firefighters, sent me a chart today of the B.C. firefighters' presumptive coverage. It states the years of cumulative employment required to claim coverage for illnesses. He said to me, “Shortened latency periods are now required as there are more and more toxic chemicals involved with fires. Firefighters are being hit with cancers faster and sooner, and latency periods need to be updated. These periods vary across Canada from province to province. This needs to change. We need consistency. For example, a member who has served 14 years and nine months is not eligible for benefits because there is a 15-year minimum service deadline.”

Firefighters simply need better. In small communities in particular, firefighters are called out to fill in a lot of other gaps in service in the communities. Fire Chief Dan Verdun, from Campbell River, noted that Campbell River has seen a significant increase in medical-type calls. Last year, out of the 3,600 calls in the Campbell River area, 2,000 were due to medical-type calls. He attributes this to the increasing shortfalls in the health care system that are being experienced across the riding. This is very concerning, because it takes up a lot of time and resources. It is something we need to look at. I know it is outside the realm of this bill, but health care concerns are growing and the impacts are tremendous and far-reaching.

This is seen in other communities in my riding. Fire Chief Brent Borg, from Port Hardy, said that there has been an increase in medical-type calls. They are now doing ambulance assist calls only, and the fire chief is really concerned that the risk is out there for people with medical needs who may or may not have the required assistance provided to them.

Fire Chief Rob McWilliam, from Gillies Bay Fire Department, is concerned about the realities they are seeing around the well-being of their members. The longer they serve, the worse the outcomes. A couple of long-term firefighters have died from cancer, and the former fire chief died from a brain tumour. He shared that a long-time firefighter with 10 years of experience died just last year. His cancer was occupation-related, in his opinion, but he was denied benefits because he had not been exposed for the minimum of 15 years. He said, “The length of exposure time they are looking for is just ridiculous.”

These folks know that the safety of their members is key and that their health is at risk just by the fact that they do their job, so they invest significant time in safety practices due to the higher instances of cancer-related deaths, including things like decontamination units and scrub-down areas. Fire Chief Borg spoke passionately about the changes they have made to care for their members over these many years.

The amount of work and dedication really should be admired and recognized. Action is the next step that needs to happen to acknowledge the long-term health outcomes of firefighters.

We ask them to deal with emergency issues and to run toward burning buildings while we are running out of them. This bill would do more to acknowledge the health outcomes of those actions. It is a start, but it is certainly not the bar of dignity they deserve. I know all of us in the House will continue to work on that.

Several months ago in my riding, a fire broke out in a trailer park in Gold River. The fire department volunteers were called and they came. The Campbell River fire station was also dispatched. It is over an hour away, so there were only volunteers on the scene.

They did an amazing job. They prevented what was already a terrible situation from becoming so much worse. I was honoured to meet with Fire Chief John McPherson and several members of his team. The Campbell River firefighters were very impressed with the Gold River firefighters' ability to do the job. We are so lucky to have them in our community. Their dedication is beyond reproach.

I am grateful for these firefighters, and I want to see their health recognized more. Volunteer firefighters need far more acknowledgement for the important work they do and for the commitments they make to our communities.

I hope that all members in this place will support my friend, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, with his private member's bill, Bill C-310. I have seconded this bill because it addresses key issues that really matter to people in my riding.

We know that volunteer firefighters are about 83% of Canada's total firefighting essential first responders. In my riding of North Island—Powell River, many of our fire stations are full of volunteers. This is how small communities work. They help each other.

Bill C-310 addresses the fact that the tax code of Canada currently allows volunteer firefighters, and search and rescue volunteers, to claim a $3,000 tax credit if 200 hours of volunteer service were completed within the calendar year.

In my opinion, this is not respectful of the work these people do. In fact, this works out to a mere $450 a year that we allow these essential workers, these volunteers, to keep as income from their regular jobs. They work to keep us and our communities safe for about $2.25 an hour.

If they volunteer more than 200 hours, which many do, this tax credit becomes even less. I want to be clear. These folks work their everyday job and then add hours of volunteer time to protect our communities.

These essential volunteers not only put their lives and health on the line, and give their time, training and efforts to Canadians, but also allow communities to keep property taxes lower than if the paid service were required. Again, it is an example of the commitment small communities have.

Bill C-310 would increase the tax credit to $10,000. This is about dignity, and this would allow these essential volunteers to keep more of their hard-earned money, which is likely to be spent in the community they live in. It would help retain these volunteers in a time when volunteerism is decreasing. If anyone has ever lived in a small community, they would realize how scary it would be if that happened.

All Canadians know we need firefighters. I am not sure how many understand the commitment and health realities they face because of their service. We must all do better.

I want to thank all the fire stations in my riding: Cortes Island, Powell River, Malaspina, Savary Island, Northside, Tal'amin, Alert Bay, Campbell River, Comox, Gillies Bay, Gold River, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Quadra Island, Sayward, Sointula, Tahsis and Zeballos.

I see them working hard in their communities, their intense engagement on social media and all that they do to keep us safe. I hope all members in this place will do better for firefighters.

National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting ActPrivate Members' Business

February 15th, 2023 / 6:30 p.m.
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Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to once again express my appreciation for the hon. member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, the sponsor of Bill C-224. I want to acknowledge the work that was done with the co-operation of all parties. That happens every once in a while, and when it does, we see just how well it works. I want to point that out so we do not forget. When we work together, it can lead to great results.

There was no consensus on Bill C-224 at first. Members will recall that, when we received the first version of this bill, the Bloc Québécois had concerns about it. Those concerns were related to strong beliefs that we hold and that are integral to our political involvement. We felt that the original bill interfered in the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec.

It was therefore difficult for us to readily support this bill, which is otherwise good. We cannot be against trying to improve our firefighters' living and working conditions, as well as their health and safety. I think that everyone agreed on that, but we had that one concern.

It did not take long for us to sense an opening for discussion. We appreciated it. That opening, evident from the start, meant that we were much more favourable to the bill moving forward.

By chance, I had the opportunity to replace my colleague from Mirabel on the Standing Committee on Health the day that the member for Longueuil—Saint‑Hubert came to speak in support of his bill. There were firefighters in the room. There were also members who had been firefighters in a past life, which resulted in testimony that was actually quite moving. Those who were there will remember.

Several firefighters from my region, Drummond, later contacted me to say how much that meeting meant to them. I am not talking about the fact that I spoke, but rather about all of the testimony given that day.

I know that my colleague from Longueuil—Charles‑LeMoyne has already heard this, but I am going to talk about when I was a firefighter. People might think it is Capitaine Bonhomme speaking, but it is not.

Many boys dream of being a police officer or a firefighter when they grow up. My dreams were different. My dream was to be a radio host, which I ended up doing eventually. On the way there, I also worked on boats. I worked as a sailor. As part of our training, we had to learn how to respond to incidents, such as fires on board and whatnot. I had only a vague, abstract notion of what firefighters did, but they shipped me off for a weekend at a firefighters' training centre. They dressed me up in the gear, which weighs a ton. Then they put me in a container they were about to set on fire and told me to figure it out.

That is not exactly how it happened. I did get some safety instructions, which I did not really listen to, unfortunately. The point is, that day was a revelation, a shock. I realized that there was more to the job than what boys of my generation thought. It was more than driving around in trucks blasting sirens and getting cats out of trees. There were huge responsibilities. These people face major risks every day on the job.

That changed how I viewed the profession. Since that day, even though I did not have to carry out those duties as part of my job at the time, I nevertheless did retain a deep admiration for firefighting, which is a vocation rather than a profession, in my opinion.

It was therefore an honour to attend the committee meeting where we discussed Bill C‑244. As a result, I remained interested in this bill. I followed it at a distance because, as I stated earlier, the member for Mirabel was more involved in this file.

I was also pleased to see the Bloc Québécois caucus change its position to support this bill and to realize that our concerns about the bill were being addressed. It is still not perfect, but I believe that what was most important to us was to ensure we were putting in place something that would better protect those who are called on to protect us. I believe that the outcome is pretty good.

As I was saying, I think there may still be other things that could be done. I think the bill is a very good starting point and a very good demonstration of the House of Commons' willingness to ensure that firefighters across Quebec and Canada feel supported and know that we are concerned about their safety.

I think the federal government could do more without encroaching on Quebec and provincial jurisdictions. For example, it could better fund research on the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of cancers, as well as on carcinogenic materials. Perhaps the federal government could make its own list of recognized cancers for its memorial grant program for first responders. It could also increase funding for municipal emergency preparedness infrastructure.

After I attended that committee meeting, I was approached by a firefighter from Drummondville, Marco Héroux. I asked him for permission to speak a little bit about the meeting we had recently at my constituency office. Mr. Héroux is a career firefighter. He has been working in Drummondville for several years and has had a number of work-related health challenges. Some of these challenges relate to certain traumas associated with firefighting work. These people witness trauma on a daily basis. It is hard for us to imagine the extent of what these individuals have to deal with in their line of work.

Mr. Héroux also had concerns about safety in fire stations. We talked about that at length as Bill C-224 was being developed. We talked about things like materials, clothing and fumes inside the fire stations themselves. We talked about how some municipalities are unable to renovate stations and install ventilation systems and protections to ensure that firefighters, who spend so much time at the fire stations, are not in contact with contaminants. This requires huge investments by municipalities, and it can be hard for them to respond to this emergency situation. It is an emergency for the health of firefighters.

The federal government could invest more in municipal infrastructure to ensure that fire stations are equipped with cutting edge ventilation systems that are beyond reproach to keep our firefighters safe and limit their exposure to cancer risks that are just as significant inside the fire station when they are not even doing responding work.

Obviously, some of the concerns I am raising may be outside the scope of the bill, but these are steps the federal government could certainly take to further improve the situation for firefighters and address their concerns over their health and safety.

I cannot help but come back to the issue of health transfers because it is such a topical issue. I think the Bloc has been tirelessly calling on the federal government to increase health transfers for many months, even years. An agreement between the federal government and the provinces seems to be coming together.

We are saying that that is not enough, that more was needed. Imagine what could have been done in terms of prevention and the implementation of mechanisms and research tools for cancer and cancer treatment. Health transfers could be used for all those things too. Those are the types of things that are missing because of the lack of funding for health care. We also need to invest to respond to these types of requests. Funding is not just needed to reduce overcrowding in emergency rooms. It is needed for many things, and I think this is a good example of why the government needs to increase health transfers.

I want to reiterate that I am pleased to see that this bill is going to be passed. I think that it is an important bill that has been long awaited by firefighters in Quebec and Canada. We can do more work on it as needs arise. I am pleased that the bill will be passed as a result of the co-operative efforts among the parties. The Bloc Québécois will enthusiastically support this bill.

National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting ActPrivate Members' Business

February 15th, 2023 / 6:20 p.m.
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Laila Goodridge Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this important debate on Bill C-224, the national framework on cancers linked to firefighting act. The bill would have a couple of really important pieces. It would establish January as firefighter cancer awareness month, and when we draw more attention to an issue, we are more likely to catch something early.

The bill would also create a national framework to increase the overall public awareness of cancers related to firefighting. This would enable better access to cancer prevention and treatment for firefighters.

As a kid, I actually grew up down the street from fire hall 3 in Fort McMurray. I had many opportunities to get to know firefighters on a personal basis. Whether they were our neighbours or my friends' dads, I got to know them as people, and they were everyday heroes to us. When Fort McMurray was overtaken by a massive forest fire about seven years ago, it was very difficult because when everyone else evacuated and left with little more than the shirts on their backs, our brave Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo firefighters stayed behind to protect our community. They did an amazing job.

They risk their lives every single day to protect our communities and our homes, and they always have our backs. Therefore, it is time we had their backs; this is a group of people who are truly heroes.

The best parade I have ever been to in my life was the Canada Day parade after the fire in Fort McMurray. There were fire trucks from all around the region, all the first nations and indigenous fire teams from the different communities, and all the fire teams from the oil companies. It was so amazing to see everyone in the community.

We had only just gotten back at the beginning of June. It was so special to have a major parade less than a month after getting back into those homes after a massive forest fire that the firefighters were still fighting. It is a memory I will have until the day I die. We celebrated them as heroes then, and in my community, we still celebrate them as heroes today.

The dangers to firefighters who race to save communities are very well known. In my community, they effectively experienced a lifetime amount of exposure to carcinogens and toxins in a month, which is virtually unheard of in that field. This is one of the big reasons I have become passionate about this. Statistical data has shown that the risk of developing cancers among firefighters is higher than it is in the rest of the population. Unfortunately, the chances of survival are often lower because they are slightly rarer cancers that are not detected as quickly.

This is something that is near and dear to my heart as someone who lost both parents to cancer at a very young age, although neither of my parents were firefighters. I know this is so important for our society. If we can keep families and friends together, it impacts far more than the firefighter; it impacts their entire family, their entire structure and the entire community. As the saying goes, it is very clear that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The only reticence I have with the bill is that in its original text, Bill C-224 was to “provide for firefighters across Canada to be regularly screened for cancers linked to firefighting”.

I supported that. I thought it was a very important piece. Unfortunately, the Liberal members of the health committee, supported by the Bloc, actually decided to water it down. It now says “to...make recommendations respecting regular screenings for cancers linked to firefighting”.

Instead of making it so the government was required to do it, it became a recommendation.

As someone who is a fierce defender of provincial jurisdiction, I can understand some of the challenge on these pieces. However, I think that it is not as strong as it could have been and that it was in the original iteration. I just want to highlight the fact that I think it was better.

I am very proud to support this bill. However, I think it was interesting because all the expert witnesses who came before the health committee highlighted that the earlier we screen for cancers, the better the outcomes.

My mom died of breast cancer when I was 21 years old. She was diagnosed when I was 20. I have had routine screenings for breast cancer since I was in my early 20s. I know that that is how I am going to save myself from that same fate of dying at 49. I know that the original intent of this bill was to do things like that so kids would get to have their parents.

I am hopeful that at some point we will get to a space where there is more robust screening for firefighters from coast to coast to coast. It is absolutely an important piece of legislation, not only for the firefighters but also, as I said, for their families, friends and entire communities. This is something to define that link between firefighting and occupational cancers or occupational diseases. This is so important because they are often people who are quick to save our homes. They are not necessarily looking out for themselves. Having more awareness about these cancers and more conversation is really how we are going to be there for them. That is our way of showing them that we care, they are important to us, they matter and their lives are meaningful.

I want to thank all members of Parliament in the debate today and all the ones who have come before me. I especially want to thank my good colleague from Barrie—Innisfil, a retired firefighter, and the member for Essex. They are two people I have come to know in this place who are former firefighters. I want to thank all Canadian firefighters for their service. I mentioned the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, but we had firefighters who came to save my community from all across the province, the country, and in fact, the world. That is something we do not get to see often, and I hope to never see it again. I hope no other community has to see it again.

Profoundly, from the very bottom of my heart, I want to thank every firefighter who serves in our communities and our nation, as well as all retired firefighters and firefighter families. I thank them. They make a difference in our lives, and we are going to do our best to support them.

National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting ActPrivate Members' Business

February 15th, 2023 / 6:10 p.m.
See context


Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, before I begin, I want to take a moment to thank the member for Cloverdale—Langley City for agreeing to switch places with me on the order of precedence so my private member's bill, Bill C-224, an act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting, could come back to the House for report stage earlier than scheduled.

I thank him because, if we have learned anything since my bill was first introduced in the House in January 2022, it is that, when it comes to protecting our Canadian firefighters from the risk of developing a duty-related cancer, time is of the essence. Every day can mean more dangerous exposure, more new cancer diagnoses and, heaven forbid, more preventable deaths.

Like many of my colleagues, I am sure, I have heard a lot of firefighters over the past year say how very necessary and essential this bill is.

Men and women from every province and territory have contacted me to tell me about their cancer battle or that of a dear colleague whose life was cut short by the dangers firefighters face every day at work.

Right here in the House, we have heard the heartfelt words of members on both sides of the aisle, some of them former firefighters themselves, who stood up to share their own experiences and to pay tribute to the co-workers and dear friends they have lost to cancer along the way in the service of Canadians.

Last June, the Standing Committee on Health heard testimony from representatives of the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs on the prevalence of cancer among firefighters.

They told us about the risks that these first responders face every day and about the importance of this bill in raising public awareness and promoting information sharing on firefighter cancer prevention and treatment and ultimately, in saving lives.

I have also heard it, as I am certain many members here have, from family members or loved ones of firefighters who are currently battling an occupational cancer or have sadly succumbed to one.

Recently, Donna from Alberta wrote to me to voice her support for Bill C-224 and to tell me how she only wished it had come earlier. In 2021, Donna lost her husband, a retired Edmonton district chief with 36 years of service, to pancreatic cancer. He had been feeling unwell for some time and had undergone countless tests, but pancreatic cancer, which is not on Alberta's list of presumptive cancers, was simply not on his doctor's radar. By the time her husband received the diagnosis, his cancer had reached stage four.

As the daughter and wife of former firefighters, my heart immediately went out to Donna. I remember well the fear that would grip me each time they went out on a fire call and the huge sense of relief I would feel every time they walked back through the door when it was over, thinking they were out of harm's way and safe, but we now know the danger is never really gone.

The facts are there. Last summer, following an in-depth review of scientific literature on the link between the occupational exposure of firefighters and their risk of cancer, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified firefighting as a Group 1 profession, the classification with the highest cancer hazards.

I made a pledge to Donna that I would not rest until lasting and positive change comes from the sacrifice she, her husband and firefighters and their families across the country have made to keep Canadians and our communities safe, so what I want to say today is, although there are a lot more stories like this out there, I think we can all say that we have heard enough. We have heard enough to now do right by the brave firefighters of our country and the loved ones who stand by them in support of the critical job they do.

I, therefore, humbly ask all members to help me get this bill through the House as quickly as possible by agreeing to collapse debate tonight so we can get it to a vote. Let us make sure that, by the time the International Association of Firefighters gathers in Ottawa next month for its legislative conference, Bill C-224 will have moved on to the Senate and will be one step closer to becoming law. We owe it to Donna. We owe it to them.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-224, An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting, as reported (with amendments).

HealthCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

December 14th, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Health regarding Bill C-224, an act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

We who work in the standing committees are privileged to have the support of some professional support folks from the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament, and I would like to recognize the clerk of the health committee, Patrick Williams, and the analysts from the Library of Parliament, Sarah Dodsworth and Kelly Farrah, and wish them a joyous and peaceful holiday season.