Fire Fighters, Police Welcome Liberal Pledge to Assist Families of the Fallen

OTTAWA, April 5 /CNW/ - The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the Canadian Police Association (CPA) welcome news that a Liberal Government would establish a fund to help the families of fallen public safety officers, while encouraging all political parties to include this important item in their respective election platforms.

In their election platform announced April 3, the Liberal Party of Canada announced it would establish a 'Community Heroes Fund' that would provide a one-time $300,000 payment to the families of fallen public safety officers, such as fire fighters and police officers, who die in the line of duty. The IAFF and the CPA have jointly called on the federal government to establishment a national Public Safety Officer Compensation (PSOC) benefit for several years.

"This kind of benefit is long overdue and we are pleased that the Liberals are prepared to step to the plate for the families of our fallen," says Scott Marks, Assistant to the General President for Canadian Operations for the IAFF, which represents over 21,000 professional fire fighters across Canada.

"We support the creation of this benefit on behalf of our members and we urge all political parties to include it in their platforms," says Charles Momy, President of the Canadian Police Association, a national voice for 41,000 front-line police personnel across Canada.

Both associations have called for the establishment of this benefit to recognize that fire fighters or police officers who die in the line of duty made their sacrifice on behalf of all Canadians.  Among full-time professional fire fighters, who protect 85 per cent of the nation's population and infrastructure, only a handful have been able to negotiate line of duty death benefits at the local level, and those benefits commonly provide only two years' continuation of salary and benefits, which is typically enough to keep survivors in the family home for two years.

"The dignity and financial security of the family of a fire fighter who has made the ultimate sacrifice should not depend on the uncertainties of the collective bargaining process or on the city or province in which they live and work," Marks says. "A national benefit is required in order to ensure an equitable level of compensation and financial security."

On average, 18 professional fire fighters die in the line of duty annually, including those who die from recognized occupational diseases such as cancer. An average of seven police officers are killed in the line of duty each year.

The IAFF and the CPA are both nonpartisan associations who have received support for the PSOC benefit from the New Democratic Party and the Green Party of Canada.  Both associations have called on the Conservative Party of Canada to recognize the sacrifices of fallen fire fighters and police officers and to commit to ensuring their families don't risk financial hardship.

"The need to stand up for the families of our police and firefighters was made abundantly clear with the tragic death of Toronto Police Sergeant Ryan Russell in January of this year.  We owe it to those who put their own safety on the line for the protection of our communities to do everything we can for those left behind," said Mr. Momy.

SOURCE International Association of Firefighters

For further information:

Scott Marks

IAFF - Assistant to the General President for Canadian Operations

(613) 301-7073

Michael Gendron
Media and Government Relations Officer, Canadian Police Association
(613) 299-6516

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International Association of Firefighters

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Federal Election 2011

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