Firefighters’ Compensation Act Policy 21-116 | Effective Date: April 13, 2016

Purpose 

The purpose of this policy is to outline principles used to determine entitlement and manage claims under the Firefighters’ Compensation Act (FC Act) and Regulation 2009-72. 

Scope 

This policy applies to all new claims for compensation under the FC Act 

Statements 

1.0 General 

All claims for injury or disease arising from employment are adjudicated under the Workers’ Compensation Act (WC Act), using Policy 21-100 Conditions for Entitlement – General Principles. This includes claims made by firefighters, former firefighters and their dependants. All claims must first be adjudicated under the WC Act. If it is determined that the firefighter, former firefighter, or dependant is not eligible to receive benefits under the WC Act, then the claim is adjudicated under the FC Act. The three-day waiting period does not apply to firefighters under the WC Act or the FC Act. 

Unlike the WC Act, the FC Act presumes certain injuries and diseases to be employment-related. The FC Act does not require weighing of evidence to determine that, on a balance of probabilities, the prescribed disease or condition is employment-related. 

Entitlement under the FC Act may exist, then, when there is disablement or death resulting from:

  • A heart attack, within 24 hours of attendance at an emergency response scene in the capacity of a firefighter; or
  • One of the diseases prescribed by the Regulation when the requirements are met. 

Once an individual or dependant is entitled to compensation under the FC Act, benefits, services, and re-openings are applied in a similar manner as other claims for compensation where the evidence supports disablement. This policy outlines the differences. 

2.0 Conditions for Entitlement 

In order for the injury to be accepted as a workplace injury or disease under the FC Act, it must be determined that:

  • There is no entitlement to compensation under the WC Act;
  • The injury or disease is prescribed in Regulation;
  • The injury or disease meets the requirements of length of service determined in Regulation;
  • There is evidence of regular exposure over a minimum length of service as prescribed in legislation; and
  • Application for benefits and services is made within the determined time frames of the FC Act. 

WorkSafeNB may use evidence gathered under the WC Act in order to determine if there is entitlement under the FC Act. 

2.1 Exposure as a Firefighter 

The FC Act extends coverage to full-time, part-time, volunteer, and former firefighters. Evidence of regular exposure to hazards of a fire scene, excluding forest fires, throughout employment as a firefighter is required from the employer(s). Regular exposure means that the firefighter did attend a fire scene(s), other than a forest fire, during the prescribed period.  

To be eligible for compensation where presumption is applied, firefighters or former firefighters must have worked a minimum length of service as prescribed in the Regulation.  

2.2 Application and Statute of Limitations 

The FC Act requires that a claim for benefits and services must be made within:

  • One year of the date of disablement; or
  • Six months from the time of death. 

Firefighters and former firefighters, who for the period of November 30, 2007 to July 22, 2009 were eligible to make a claim for compensation, were required to do so by July 22, 2010. 

If the claim is not made in the time period provided, WorkSafeNB may not provide benefits and services, unless it is first determined by WorkSafeNB that the claim is just and ought to be allowed and there is evidence of disablement from the prescribed disease. WorkSafeNB determines whether a claim is just and ought to be allowed on a case-by-case basis when other conditions for entitlement are met. Please refer to Policy 21-106 Accident Reporting and Application for Benefits. 

3.0 Funding the Cost of Claims 

WorkSafeNB levies assessments to municipalities and rural districts to fund benefits and services for claims for injury or disease accepted under the FC Act. Medical treatments and services are provided under the Medical Services Payment Act or Hospital Services Act. Other benefits and services provided under the FC Act are paid out of the FC Act Disability Fund. This fund is separate from the WC Act Accident Fund, and WorkSafeNB has exclusive jurisdiction for all matters related to the collection and payment of the FC Act Disability Fund. 

3.1 Annuities 

Individuals who continue to receive loss of earnings benefits under the FC Act for 24 consecutive months are entitled to an annuity benefit. This benefit is administered separately from annuities provided under the WC Act. 

3.2 Cost Relief 

The FC Act has no provisions for pre-existing conditions, therefore, the employer has no entitlement to cost relief. 

3.3 Overpayments 

Employers will only be credited/relieved of overpayment costs upon the recovery of such monies.

Adjudication – make a decision regarding a claim. 

Appeals Tribunal – means the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal established under the WHSCC & WCAT Act. 

Dependant – a member of the family of a firefighter or former firefighter, who was wholly or partly dependent upon his or her earnings at the time of his or her death or who, but for the disablement of the firefighter or former firefighter, would have been so dependent. (FC Act) 

Disability fund – the fund providing for the payment of compensation, benefits and expenses pursuant to the FC Act and the administrative costs under this Act incurred in relation to the FC Act. (WHSCC & WCAT Act) 

Disablement – a disability arising from a heart attack or a prescribed disease under the circumstances prescribed in section 5 of the FC Act. (FC Act) 

Emergency response scene – those circumstances where a firefighter attends an unplanned crisis situation including but not limited to a fire, car crash, or other incidents as part of their active duty.  

Firefighter – a person who is employed or serves as a firefighter with a municipality or rural community as a firefighter with a fire brigade that provides fire protection services in a local services district or in a community. (FC Act)

Heart attack – synonymous with myocardial infarction. Myocardial infarction is the death of the heart muscle due to lack of oxygen. (Adapted from Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary)

Loss of earnings – (a) average net earnings, less (b) the earnings the firefighter or former firefighter is estimated to be capable of earning at a suitable occupation after becoming disabled, less any income tax and premiums under the Employment Insurance Act (Canada) and contributions under the Canada Pension Plan Act (Canada) that would be payable based on those earnings. (FC Act) 

Prescribed disease – a disease prescribed by the regulations. (FC Act) 

Presumption – finding of a basic fact gives rise to existence of presumed fact. (Adapted from Black’s Law Dictionary) 

Rebuttal – evidence given to explain, repel, counteract or disprove facts given in evidence. (Adapted from Black’s Law Dictionary). 

WorkSafeNB – means the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission or "the Commission" as defined by the WHSCC & WCAT Act.

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