Mike Harris Joins Min. Laurie Scott to Announce Protections for 'Double Hatter' FirefightersPublished on
21 November, 2018
Niagara Falls, Ontario—Mike Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga, joined the Honourable Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour, at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs’ Annual General Meeting to announce reforms that will strengthen provincial volunteer fire services.
In the Province of Ontario, 220 fire services depend on nearly 19,000 volunteer front-line responders. Waterloo Region alone depends on nearly 350 volunteer firefighters to operate the township fire services of North Dumfries, Wilmot, Wellesley, and Woolwich.
In the Region, there are nearly 50 professional firefighters who volunteer their free-time and lives to serve locally, many of them as senior officers.
Minister Scott announced amendments to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, included in last week’s Fall Economic Statement, which, if passed, will legally protect professional, paid firefighters who also volunteer in their local community from union discrimination and loss of employment.
In my meetings with township mayors and chiefs, they were clear that professional firefighters, or so called ‘Double Hatters’, provide an indispensable resource in expertise and leadership to a volunteer model which would be difficult and expensive to replace. A volunteer based recruitment model is crucial for the viability of rural fire services in our region and across Ontario.
Today’s announcement by Minister Scott to offer legal protections for these dedicated first responders reflects our government’s commitment to listen and support municipalities across Ontario.