The Ontario government is investing $700,000 to support four innovative and free training projects designed for 203 professional and volunteer firefighters around the province. Training will focus on fighting fires in hazardous (Mayday) situations for small and rural services to ensure they are equipped and prepared for ground rescue and wildfire scenarios. There will also be courses for automobile extraction, boating and water safety, and elevator rescue.
“Our firefighters are true heroes who face danger head-on and without hesitation to protect our communities and our people,” said Premier Doug Ford. “These new investments will help to ensure they have the training and resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”
Firefighting is among the most stressful careers in Ontario. In recognition of the mental toll, this investment will also contribute to peer support training for suicide awareness and crisis intervention. Two projects will be led by the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, while the City of Mississauga and the Town of Georgina are receiving funding as well.
“Firefighters work tirelessly to protect others and the physical and mental stresses they face takes a toll,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government is proud to invest in training programs that offer peer support and mental health services to ensure our firefighters have the training and experience they need to take care of their communities and themselves.”
In March 2023, Ontario announced plans to expand cancer coverage for firefighters. These changes will make it faster and easier for these heroes and their families to access the compensation and supports they deserve for thyroid and pancreatic cancers from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
“We are thrilled with the announcement,” said Greg Horton, President of the Ontario Professional Firefighters Association. “Professional development and capacity building are core value propositions the OPFFA offers its members. The Association plays a unique role in assessing the continuing education needs of its members and delivering programs to meet those needs. While there is ample training on how to put out a fire and save lives, there hasn’t been adequate training on firefighter survival.”
These projects are funded through the government’s Skills Development Fund, a $700 million initiative, which supports ground-breaking programs that connect jobseekers with the skills and training they need to find well-paying careers close to home.
- There are about 30,000 firefighters in Ontario, including about 12,000 full-time firefighters, nearly 19,000 volunteer firefighters and more than 400 part-time firefighters.
- Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association is receiving $367,105 for the Fire Ground Survival Program and $65,995 for the Peer Support Program.
- The City of Mississauga is receiving $101,099 for the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Fire Ground Survival program.
- The Town of Georgina is receiving $176,000 for the Professional Development Georgina Fire & Rescue Services project.
- Through its first three funding rounds, the Skills Development Fund helped launch 595 projects to help nearly 522,000 people around the province take the next step in their careers.
- Ontario’s Skills Development Fund is supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
“Our firefighting heroes require appropriate training and resources so they can save lives and make it home to their loved ones. This new training investment by our government is critical to tackling the operational and mental health challenges our professional and volunteer firefighters encounter daily.”
– Michael Kerzner
Ontario’s Solicitor General
“This investment is welcomed as it allows Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services to provide the critical professional development and access to specialized training that helps ensure our firefighters have the practical skills and knowledge necessary to protect themselves and the communities they serve. Training like The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Fire Ground Survival program is invaluable. This internationally recognized program teaches firefighters how to prevent mayday situations from occurring including how to perform potentially life-saving actions should they become lost, trapped or injured. The Fire Ground Survival program also provides crucial skills training in the areas of self-rescue, rapid intervention and firefighter survival techniques as well as hazard recognition, effective communication and situational awareness to improve survivability and decrease the potential of injury and death of firefighters. Training and skills development is the foundation for our team; helping strengthen capabilities while reducing injuries and potential risk. “
– Deryn Rizzi
Fire Chief of Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services
“The Fire Fighters Association of Ontario welcomes this important announcement. The fire service has been faced with unique financial challenges post-covid that a lot of municipalities across Ontario are struggling to overcome. These investments will help alleviate this financial burden and allow fire departments to not only provide a better service to their citizens but keep their members safe while doing so.”
– Randy Narine
Section 21 Committee Representative, The Fire Fighters Association of Ontario
“We are excited to see the Ministry’s commitment to supporting our firefighters through the Skills Development Fund projects being announced today. These initiatives will help ensure our frontline heroes have the necessary skills and resources to protect our communities and keep Ontarians safe. We extend our thanks to Premier Doug Ford, the Hon. Monte McNaughton, and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for their dedication to Ontario’s firefighters.”
– Rob Grimwood
President, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs
“I’d like to thank Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton for supporting the Fire Ground Survival and Peer Support training programs from the International Association of Fire Fighters. These programs will help save the lives of firefighters by providing the skills needed to self-rescue should they become trapped at an emergency scene, as well better deal with the mental trauma often resulting from the job.”
– Fred LeBlanc
13th District Vice President, International Association of Fire Fighters
“Thanks to the Province of Ontario’s Skills Development Fund, Georgina Fire & Rescue Services will be able to continue to improve and maintain high level training for our firefighters so we can respond to specialized rescue situations. This funding will be utilized to support our annual training plan and associated programs, help to ensure the safety of our firefighters, and meet the growing needs of our community.”
– Ron Jenkins
Fire Chief, Town of Georgina