CORNWALL, Ontario – Small town fire departments are concerned at how Bill 148 may impact volunteer fire services.
While most are familiar with the impact Bill 148 will have on minimum wage, it is also expected to increase on-call pay for firefighters and other emergency workers.
As it currently stands, municipalities have control over their on-call pay, which varies between different townships. The the new legislation would see volunteer firefighters paid a minimum of three hours per day, regardless of whether they were responding to a call.
While three hours has been the longstanding minimum to accommodate for volunteers’ full-time jobs, North Glengarry Fire Chief, Patrick Gauthier says imposing the minimum is a problematic solution.
“Paying people to be on stand by is at face value, not bad idea,” said Gauthier. The problem is that implementation so abruptly would take the wage budget and multiply it by six.”
Gauthier says that while North Glengarry’s volunteer firefighters earn slightly more on average, they are currently only paid by the hour.
“Our concern is whether or not this is actually affordable,” said Gauthier. “There has been some discussion about next steps, but right now, we’re just in a ‘wait and see’ mode.”