Stoyko was diagnosed with brain cancer in January 2002, and began his fight to have cancer recognized as a work-related illness for firefighters. According to studies of Canadian firefighters, they are three times more likely to contract brain, bladder and kidney cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukemia. Exposure to toxic fumes from burning building materials and other sources was suggested as the cause of the increased rates of cancer.
Stoyko, who served as a firefighter for 29 years, lobbied Manitoba legislators to pass a law making firefighters automatically eligible for compensation for brain, bladder and kidney cancer, and leukemia or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Under the new law, full-time firefighters who have been working for several years and contract cancer are eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Employers wishing to appeal such cases must prove the cancer is not work-related.
Since Manitoba adopted the legislation, other provinces, including Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, are looking at passing similar laws.