Jeff Burch MPP, Niagara Centre

Government of Ontario

MPP Burch pushes for better cancer coverage for firefighters

Published on June 7, 2023

QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre) tabled the Captain Craig Bowman Act today, a private member’s bill (PMB) that would change Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) regulations to ensure more firefighters have access to cancer care coverage.

“Firefighters face a number of health hazards as they work to keep our families and communities safe,” said Burch. “They put their lives and health on the line for us every day, and I am honoured to bring forth this bill that will help them navigate these hazards and improve their access to insurance.”

Burch’s PMB was inspired by Captain Craig Bowman, who was a professional firefighter for the City of Welland for 23 years, and a volunteer firefighter for the City of Thorold for nearly three years.

Captain Bowman passed away this May from esophageal cancer - a cancer often associated with firefighting – after working as a firefighter for 23 years. WSIB legislation is currently applied in cases where the claimant has been a firefighter for 25 years or more. Craig missed this cut off by just two years. As a result, his claim was denied.

Burch’s bill would lower the minimum years of service to 20 – the same standard as in British Columbia.

“Mr. Bowman was a hero,” said Burch. “He spent nearly a quarter of a century putting his life on the line for the rest of us every time he reported for duty. He fought more than 200 fires. It’s time for his community to honour his memory. This is not a partisan issue and should not be a political issue. Nothing would make me happier than for the government to work with me to pass legislation and solve this problem once and for all."

Burch was joined by the family of Captain Bowman.

“The red tape for firefighters battling cancer results in a process that can take years to gain an approval (for WSIB). This has stolen so much from my family. If my dad had been approved while he was alive, he would have had access to better care....he may have even still been here today.

Before my dad passed, I made him a promise to be his voice and to fight for the safety of firefighters. We need to change the system and ensure that no more families go through what mine has endured. Preventative measures and early detection must be implemented, and support for those suffering from occupational cancer while serving the residents of Ontario must be addressed.”

-Lexi Bowman, Daughter of Captain Craig Bowman