TIMMINS – The Ontario government is investing an additional $20.5 million in wildland fire management to continue to improve and modernize how we fight wildland fires.
This funding is being used over three years to enhance aerial technologies, hire and train critical fire staff and help increase understanding of evolving fire science and behaviour.
“The 2023 wildfire season has been one of the most challenging fire seasons Ontario has faced in recent memory,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “As the demands on our resources increase, it is imperative that Ontario continues to look at ways to strengthen our firefighting efforts so that we remain an internationally recognized leader in wildland fire management. “
With this funding, the government is:
Investing in new aerial fire suppression technologies, including drones
Building capacity to support Indigenous wildland fire management and community resilience
Strengthening Ontario’s FireRanger workforce by recruiting new staff, enhancing skills development and promoting and maintaining safety
Investing in science and risk assessment, including entering into collaborative research agreements with universities and other institutions to better understand the evolving science behind wildland fire management.
In addition, the government is working on several staffing improvements, including developing a psychological safety program to prevent and respond to mental stress and protect the overall psychological well-being of staff working in the wildland fire program.
Ontario is also addressing financial barriers to recruitment and retention by reimbursing eligible FireRangers for expenses related to training and reviewing collective agreement entitlements, including stand-by and on-call pay.
In Ontario, more than 700 wildland fires have been reported so far, burning more than 420,000 hectares across the province – nearly triple the 10-year average of total hectares burned on the landscape.
Ontario is internationally recognized as a leader in wildland fire management, with hundreds of staff who are highly trained and skilled in fighting wildland fires.
Ontario has a fleet of specialized aircraft used to suppress wildland fires and transport staff across the province, as well as 14 fire management headquarters, three attack bases and 17 forward attack bases.
Ontario has increased its base funding for 2023-2024 by $35 million for emergency forest firefighting and our government has increased its commitment for funding Emergency Fire Preparedness by more than 92 per cent since 2018.