12/11/2002

Toronto, ON., December 11, 2002 - To the disappointment of municipalities and their volunteer firefighters across Ontario, the Legislative Assembly in a 37 to 52 vote today defeated Bill 30, the Volunteer Firefighters Employment Protection Act, 2002.
The legislation would have protected those full-time firefighters who also serve in volunteer fire departments in their communities (two-hatters) from union harassment and threats.  Many are now being threatened with loss of their employment unless they agree to give up their positions as volunteer firefighters.  A growing number of these firefighters have resigned as volunteers, providing increased concern about public safety and one firefighter has been charged and found guilty under the Union's constitution for working as a volunteer firefighter.  The firefighter could lose his job as a result.

“We thank Mr. Arnott for championing this issue on behalf of volunteer firefighters, municipalities, and the property taxpayers they serve,” said AMO President, Ken Boshcoff.  He continued, “It is unfortunate that more MPPs did not stand up for volunteerism, public safety and taxpayers".

AMO supported Bill 30 because it would have given firefighters the right to assist their own local communities by serving with their volunteer fire departments.  Similar protections are available to other workers in Ontario.

Bill 30 was also important for public safety.  According to the Ontario Fire Marshal, "The sudden or phased withdrawal of two-hatters from communities dependent on volunteer fire departments could significantly impact on their ability to provide an adequate level of fire protection and may in some cases pose a potential serious threat to public safety". 

AMO is also concerned that there could be a significant cost impact on municipalities and their property taxpayers across the Province.  These fire departments may have to replace many of their volunteers with fulltime firefighters if “two-hatters” are forced to quit their positions in volunteer departments as a result of Bill 30 being voted down.

"The defeat of this Bill does not mean the issue has gone away", said Boshcoff, “and it is clear that the Province will still need to address it." 

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is a non-profit organization with member municipalities representing 98 per cent of Ontario’s population.  AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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