Statement from the Minister of Health to mark the first Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month
January 4, 2024 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada
Whether facing the challenges of the unprecedented 2023 wildfire season, responding to emergencies as first responders, or risking their lives to save others, firefighters selflessly service Canadians from coast to coast to coast every single day, putting the health and safety of others before theirs.
Cancer accounts for more than 86% of all duty-related deaths among Canadian firefighters. These dedicated individuals face a 9% higher risk of cancer diagnosis and a 14% higher risk of cancer-related mortality compared to the general population. For the estimated 32,000 career firefighters and 100,000 volunteer firefighters across the country, awareness, education, and information sharing are critical in the prevention and early detection of cancers associated with firefighting.
The Government of Canada has implemented various measures to tackle these concerning statistics, including the 2021 Firefighters Action Plan initiated by the Ministers of Health and Environment and Climate Change, which aims to safeguard firefighters from hazardous chemical exposures during house fires. But there is still more work to be done.
That is why the Government of Canada, in consultation with stakeholders and other levels of government, is currently developing a comprehensive national framework to raise awareness on this issue, with the goal of improving access to cancer prevention and treatment for firefighters. The framework will provide a common direction for stakeholders, including health care professionals, scientists and the firefighting community, to address the challenges posed by cancers associated with firefighting.
During this first ever Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month, let’s take the time to show our appreciation for firefighters and the risks they face, and work together towards a safer future.
The Honourable Mark Holland, P.C., M.P.
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health
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