The growing number of forest fires and the tragic death of a B.C. worker highlight the risks that fire fighters face. NUPGE calls for an increased federal role to recruit, train, equip and properly compensate the brave individuals who go into the woods to fight these fires.
Ottawa (06 July 2015) — The death of a worker in B.C. while helping to fight a forest fire should remind us all of the dangerous conditions these women and men face every year says the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
“The worker who died fighting the Sechelt Mine wildfire paid the ultimate price for trying to protect his friends and neighbours,” said James Clancy, NUPGE National President. “Across Canada right now there are hundreds of women and men who endure severe hardship and risk their lives for their communities. They deserve our unconditional support and thanks.”
Hundreds of forest fires across the country
The summer of 2015 is shaping up to be a bad season for forest fires.
“The drought in B.C. is resulting in thousands of people being affected by wildfires. In Alberta, hundreds are being evacuated in Cold Lake,” said Clancy. “The La Ronge region of northern Saskatchewan is another area seeing dangerous forest fires. The impact of these fires, including smoke and falling ash, covers huge areas of this country.”
According to the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System, as of the first of July, there were 167 uncontrolled fires in Canada, with another 279 being fought but under control. It is reported that this year is seeing a nearly 40% increase in fires over the average of the past 10 years.
Need for a national coordinated response
“Many of the forest fire fighters in Canada are members of NUPGE. We have been arguing for years that there needs to be more federal leadership in helping provinces fight forest fires in Canada,” said Clancy.
“There needs to be increased funding to the provinces to help them recruit, train, equip and properly compensate the brave individuals who go into the woods to fight these fires.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE