Legislation to further protect the health of firefighters receives Royal Assent

News release

June 26, 2023 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada

Every day, firefighters put their lives on the line to keep Canadians safe. The Government of Canada acknowledges the incredible work they do to protect our communities and continues to take the necessary action to protect these first responders in their lifesaving work.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, welcomed the Royal Assent of Bill C-224 – An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting, bill that was introduced by Sherry Romanado, Member of Parliament for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne.

Through Bill C-224, starting next year, the month of January will be declared “Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month” throughout Canada. This important declaration will raise awareness about cancers linked to firefighting and best practices to prevent these cancers.

The Royal Assent of Bill C-224 builds on commitments to implement an action plan to protect people in Canada, including firefighters, from exposure to toxic flame retardants found in household products. It also expands the Government of Canada Action Plan to protect firefighters from harmful chemicals released during household fires, announced in August 2021.

Health Canada will develop a national framework that raises awareness of cancers linked to firefighting and that supports improved access for firefighters to cancer prevention and treatment. Over the next year, a national framework will be developed to provide a common direction for stakeholders to address cancer among firefighters.

Specifically, Bill C-224 allows Health Canada to support valuable research on the link between certain types of cancer and firefighting, make recommendations regarding regular screenings for cancers linked to firefighting, and promote research and improve data collection on the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting.

Health Canada is engaging with stakeholders to inform the development of the national framework and will work with all relevant parties to better protect firefighters in the line of duty.


“Firefighters risk their lives everyday to keep people safe and through this bill, we are taking another step to protect them too. The development of a national framework will raise awareness, promote research and improve prevention and treatments of cancers linked to firefighting. We applaud the Royal Assent of Bill C-224 and thank MP Romanado for her hard work and leadership championing this bill.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health 

“Cancer is responsible for over 85% of all duty-related deaths among firefighters in Canada. Awareness, education and information sharing are critical to the prevention and early detection of the cancers linked to firefighting. This Bill represents concrete action to better protect the health and safety of the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. That it passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate is a testament to the high regard in which our country’s holds its firefighters and the essential work they do.”

Sherry Romanado
Deputy House Leader of the Government
Member of Parliament for Longueuil – Charles-LeMoyne

Quick facts

  • Across Canada, there are an estimated 32,000 career firefighters and 100,000 volunteer firefighters.

  • In June 2022, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, classified firefighting as a known human carcinogen.

    • Between 2005 and 2016, 86% of occupational fatality claims for Canadian firefighters were linked to cancer.
    • Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of cancer diagnosis, and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general public.
  • Under the Chemicals Management Plan, the Government of Canada has assessed over 150 flame retardants, concluding that approximately 35 have concerns for human health or the environment. Actions are in place to restrict or mitigate the risks for 23 of these substances; plans will be announced and in place in the near future for the remaining 12.

Associated links


Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

Public Inquiries

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