Ontario Government Invests $5 Million to Support Wildland Firefighting Efforts

Incentives and Permanent Positions Aimed at Attracting, Retaining, and Recognizing Front-line Firefighters

Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry makes an announcement (image source: X / @GraydonTheMPP)

Toronto, Ontario – The Ontario government has announced a significant investment of over $5 million to bolster wildland firefighting efforts for the upcoming 2024 fire season. This funding is intended to attract, retain, and recognize the critical contributions of front-line firefighters and support staff who work tirelessly to protect communities and natural resources across the province.

Under the initiative, front-line firefighters and aviation crew members will be eligible to receive an attraction and retention incentive payment of up to $5,000. This recognition comes in light of the challenging and often hazardous conditions faced by these individuals as they combat wildfires both on the ground and in the air.

Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, emphasized the importance of supporting wildland firefighting staff, stating, “Wildland firefighting staff work tirelessly under very difficult conditions to protect the health and safety of Ontarians, their property and our natural resources. This is a respected and challenging career in our natural resources sector.”

In addition to the incentive for front-line firefighters, support staff represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) within the Aviation Forest Fire and Emergency Services Branch will receive a one-time payment of up to $1,000. This recognizes the invaluable support they provide to the firefighting efforts.

These incentive payments are part of a broader strategy by the government to support wildland firefighting staff. Measures include expanding eligibility for standby and on-call pay, reimbursing expenses related to training and mandatory courses, and providing subsidies for safety equipment such as special safety boots.

Moreover, the government is taking proactive steps to address the demands of escalating fire seasons by creating over 100 permanent positions within the wildland fire program. These positions aim to build leadership and experience within the program, offering career advancement opportunities for firefighters and support staff alike.

Overall, the Ontario government’s investment underscores its commitment to safeguarding public safety and natural resources amidst the growing threat of wildfires. By providing incentives and creating permanent positions, the government aims to ensure that Ontario’s wildland firefighting efforts remain robust and effective in the face of evolving challenges.

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