KIRKLAND LAKE/PEMBROKE, ON, Nov. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - The announced layoff of
34 seasonal firefighters as well as four warehouse staff by the
Ministry of Natural Resources leaves many unanswered questions as to
how well the Ministry can respond in the event of fire emergencies in
the north and east.
The MNR told staff today it will no longer operate the fire bases in
Kirkland Lake and Pembroke starting with the 2014 fire season. 34 Fire
Management Program staff, most of them firefighters, are receiving
notice they will not be recalled for work next year.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says that despite Ministry
assurances that new seasonal positions will be located in "larger and
more strategic" fire facilities, it leaves the communities of Kirkland
Lake and Pembroke wondering how long response times will be when fires
"The Ministry remains silent as to where these firefighters will be
located and how long it will take to get them into position in Pembroke
and Kirkland Lake areas when needed," Thomas said. "These communities
will have to rely solely on local fire crews until Ministry support can
Thomas says that this is just another example of how the Liberal
government is dismantling the management and protection of Ontario's
natural environment and abandoning its responsibilities to the people
who live in rural and northern Ontario.
"Today we are seeing another example of what Ontario's Environmental
Commissioner recently characterized in his annual report as 'the
deliberate dismantling of environmental protection built up over the
past decades in the guise of MNR transformation,'" Thomas said. "Gord
Miller warned of a 'nightmare scenario' resulting from the cuts and
deregulation this government has implemented."
Miller said the combined budgets of the Ministries of Environment and
Natural Resources are at their smallest share of the provincial budget
in over 20 years.
The closure of the Kirkland Lake and Pembroke fire bases will result in
the loss of 14 and 20 seasonal fire staff positions, respectively. Four
full-time warehouse staff will be laid off in each of Chapleau,
Cochrane, Wawa and Timmins.
For further information:
Don Ford, OPSEU Communications 416-443-8888