Who will keep people in Ontario safe this wildfire season?

By Noah Freedman
The National Observer
February 20, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada East

With six weeks until wildfire season, the Ford government is on a campaign to silence its wildland firefighters’ dire warning about the catastrophic state of the province’s fire program. Make no mistake, winter is almost over and the fire bans are coming. Fire bans are used by the province when the threat of wildfire is extreme and though the government cannot readily influence the severity of the hazard, it can, and does, control the limitation of firefighting resources. …According to an internal report from 2015, Ontario’s wildfire program is comprised primarily of students trying to pay for college, which has resulted in constant turnover and “inexperienced staff making poor decisions on the fireline.” Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Graydon Smith has reassured Ontarians that the province has a “great number of crews.” In reality, ongoing retention issues mean Ontario is actually losing fire crews, and experience, at an exponential rate every year.

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