Ontario Launches New Incentive Payment for Wildland Firefighting Staff

In Provincial

More than $5 million will be provided to attract and retain critical employees

The Ontario government is investing over $5 million to attract, retain and recognize wildland firefighting staff for the 2024 fire season to protect people and communities across the province.

In recognition of the critical services wildland firefighters and pilots perform amid challenging and often dangerous conditions, an attraction and retention incentive payment of up to $5,000 will be provided to employees in front-line fire, aviation and critical support positions to support the 2024 fire season.

“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,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “In addition to this incentive, we continue to explore longer-term strategies and solutions to support attraction and retention of critical jobs for future years.”

More than 1,000 front-line wildland fire rangers and aviation crew members are eligible to receive this attraction and retention incentive. These crews are challenged with the critical work of detecting and fighting fires both on the ground and in the air.

In addition to the up to $5,000 given to front-line firefighting staff, in recognition of the valuable support they provide, all other OPSEU-represented support staff in the Aviation Forest Fire and Emergency Services Branch at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will receive a one-time payment of up to $1,000.

These attraction and retention incentive payments build on the government’s ongoing efforts to support wildland firefighting staff, including expanding eligibility for standby and on-call pay, reimbursing eligible expenses related to training and other mandatory courses, providing up to $500 annually towards the cost of special safety boots and actively marketing summer job and career opportunities in this important public safety program.

The government is also taking action to support the wildland fire program with the creation of more than 100 permanent positions to meet the demands of escalated and increasingly complex fire seasons. These positions will contribute to building leadership and experience within our wildland fire program by adding new year-round positions that will support career path opportunities for fire rangers and other staff.

Quick Facts

  • The attraction and retention incentive payments will be made available to OPSEU-represented staff in Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services.
  • Last year, more than 700 wildland fires were reported in Ontario, burning more than 440,000 hectares across the province – nearly triple the 10-year average of total hectares burned.
  • From April through October, wildland firefighting staff provide critical emergency services to detect and supress wildland fires across Ontario.
  • Ontario is internationally recognized as a leader in wildland fire management.
  • In addition to fighting wildland fires in Ontario, wildland firefighting crews and support staff travel to other parts of Canada and the United States when needed.
Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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