A committee established to review the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act is recommending the establishment of a separate fund for firefighters. The report was presented to government in January and released publicly yesterday. The review committee chaired by Ralph Tucker made 42 policy recommendations and 90 recommendations related to the review of the language of the legislation.
A claim by a firefighter would first be adjudicated by the WHSC Act and if rejected, then be reviewed under the firefighters compensation act. For compensation for diseased firefighters, the committee says the act should include a presumptive clause for recognized cancers and their latency periods. It is proposed that the firefighters compensation fund be fully funded by the municipalities that employ firefighters . Newfoundland and Labrador is one of only three provinces where separate funds have not yet been established.
The committee is calling on the Commission to reach financial parity with their Atlantic province counterparts within a five year period. The income replacement rate on average is 85 per cent in the Maritimes, the maximum earnings $59,500, and the average assessment rate $2.20.
Another recommendation includes an amendment to the section of the act dealing with external reviews. The committee would like to see hearings held within 60 days of the application and a decision rendered and communicated within 30 days of the hearing.
The province is now accepting public comment on the recommendations through the Labour Relations Agency. The feedback will be used in the development of an action plan to respond to the recommendations of the report.