TORONTO, March 22, 2005 – The Ontario government is helping Ontario municipalities better protect residents by providing funding to municipal fire departments for training and equipment for the first time in more than 20 years, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter announced today.
“The government is furthering the cause of community safety by ensuring
that firefighters in the province have the training and tools they need to do their job and help minimize the risk of personal harm,” Kwinter said. “We recognize that municipalities – particularly in rural areas – require additional support to provide high-quality fire protection. That’s why we are providing them with this unprecedented one-time funding.”
Funds from the $30-million Ontario Fire Service Grant will be distributed
to municipalities’ fire departments to meet training needs and, where appropriate, purchase new equipment.
“This program responds to a real need among fire services across Ontario,” Ontario Fire Marshal Bernard Moyle said. “It provides fire services with the flexibility to tailor the funding for local needs so that they may continue to deliver outstanding service to the people of this province.”
“This funding will enable fire departments across the province to ensure
firefighters have the training and equipment necessary to better protect the people of Ontario,” Kwinter said.
THE ONTARIO FIRE SERVICE GRANT
The government recognizes, supports and values Ontario’s firefighters. Its commitment to provide training, technology and equipment for municipal fire services will further strengthen fire protection services by helping to ensure that Ontario’s firefighters have the tools they need to protect our communities and to minimize personal harm.
The funding formula for the $30-million Ontario Fire Service Grant is based on the population of municipalities as taken from the 2001 census. The focus of the grant will be on training and ensuring that quality training is available on a regional basis.
Small and rural municipalities have a greater funding need because of
their lower property and business tax base. Therefore, the per-capita average funding amount favours smaller communities over larger communities while still ensuring all communities receive funding. Municipalities of 50,000 or less received 71 per cent of the funding.
There are 10,452 full-time firefighters, 113 part-time firefighters and
17,843 volunteer firefighters in Ontario. There are currently 28 full-time fire departments, 159 composite fire departments and 251 volunteer fire departments.
Ninety-five per cent of the fire departments in Ontario are made up of volunteers or have a volunteer component. The Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA) introduced a new framework for fire protection services in Ontario, including specific roles for the province and municipalities.
The FPPA requires municipalities to deliver public education programs and some components of fire prevention as well as other fire protection services as determined necessary by the municipality’s needs and circumstances. Firefighter health and safety falls within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE FIRE SERVICES GRANT
Roger Anderson, President, Association of Municipalities of Ontario: “The safety of our communities and those that serve in emergency services, including fire fighters, is one of the core functions of municipal government. Enhancing financial support for training and equipment for firefighters will be helpful to municipal government across Ontario.”
Rob Browning, President, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs: “Fire chiefs welcome this funding. It will go a long way to assisting fire departments to meet ever-escalating service demands. Training and equipment are necessary components of an effective community fire protection system and the OAFC is pleased with the support the government is demonstrating with this funding.”
Fred LeBlanc, President, Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association: “This is much needed funding for fire services in Ontario. It will allow municipalities to raise the level of service and the types of services they will be able to provide. It will enhance the health and safety of OPFFA members and, in turn, the safety of Ontario residents.”
Jim Richards, President, Fire Fighters Association of Ontario: “The Fire Fighters Association of Ontario would like to thank the Ontario government for this funding. It will go towards improving the quality of all fire fighters and especially those in the volunteer services of rural Ontario. It is one step closer to addressing our needs.”
Bill Stewart, Chief, Toronto Fire Services: “This is an important announcement for firefighting in Ontario. It’s a positive step by the government and will help fire services immensely. From Toronto’s point of view, the funding will be used to enhance training programs and purchase much-needed equipment.”