06/19/2002

Toronto, Ont., June 19, 2002 – AMO supports Bill 30 and the rights of firefighters to work as volunteer firefighters.
In recent months, full-time firefighters who also serve as volunteers in their local community fire departments ("two-hatters") have been pressured and threatened by their unions. They have been told to either resign their volunteer positions or face union charges, and possibly the loss of their full-time job. Ted Arnott, MPP, Waterloo-Wellington, has introduced Bill 30, the Volunteer Firefighters Employment Protection Act, to protect these firefighters.  This legislation would afford Ontario’s firefighters the same protection as other workers in Ontario and other firefighters in Canada.

AMO wants the provincial legislature to move to protect these full-time firefighters who volunteer and wish to continue contributing their knowledge, skill and sense of civic duty to their local communities.  If passed, Bill 30 would not allow unions to discipline, decline membership, or refuse to provide representation to any member "...who is employed on a salaried basis by one fire department solely because the member also works as a volunteer firefighter in another community."   

It must be remembered that firefighters previously fought for and gained the right to have part-time employment.  Many do so by “volunteering” or have other part-time jobs that likewise contribute to the local community.  "We cannot condone firefighters in Ontario facing the possibility of losing their job because they were serving as a volunteer firefighter,“ said Ann Mulvale, President of AMO. "We hope that all political parties and MPPs will support these firefighters and the communities they serve by voting in support for this important piece of legislation. It will give firefighters the same protections as other workers in Ontario and other firefighters in North America." 

If the Bill does not pass, municipalities may be forced to replace these "two-hatters" who are leaders in the fire departments of their home communities with volunteers who have less experience and training.  Some communities may be forced to replace them with full-time firefighters, which could result in very large property tax increases.  These resulting tax increases could be as high as 16% to 20%.  "Who is going to explain these kind of tax increases to the taxpayers who have to foot the bill?” said President Mulvale. AMO urges the Provincial Legislature to support this legislation and pass it as soon as possible so that the uncertainty is resolved. 
 
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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