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Newmarket protests new firefighter training mandate, estimates $800K cost

Ontario government is mandating a minimum level of certification for firefighters delivering certain services as of July 1
May 3, 2022
Joseph Quigley

Newmarket is protesting a new provincial firefighter training mandate that its fire staff roughly estimated could cost the town approximately $800,000 over six years.

The Ontario government changed a regulation in April to mandate a minimum level of certification for firefighters delivering specific services, as opposed to previously having no such requirements. Council backed a resolution from Councillor Christina Bisanz to address the concerns with the move, principally over funding the new training.

“It’s potentially going to cost just over $100,000 (annually) over the six years. That’s money we’ll otherwise have to find somewhere, and I’m not sure to the degree in which there are grants,” she said. “It is still a hit to us.”

The province said it is introducing the regulatory change to “help ensure that firefighters have consistent training according to the level of service set by a municipal council or territory.” It said the move reflects feedback from consultations.

But municipalities are expecting high costs. Central York Fire Services Deputy Fire Chief Jeremy Inglis said Newmarket’s fire department already meets many of the training requirements, but it has not covered all the now mandated courses. He provided the $800,000 preliminary estimate, which he said is based on worst-case scenarios for accessibility in courses and testing. 

“We are continuing to advocate for additional funding,” he said. “If we’re unable to get that, and we’re unable to match the growth reserves in our budget, we’d have to look at increases to the budget at that point. Hopefully, we can avoid that.”

Bisanz’s resolution said the principle of firefighter certification is a step in the right direction but identifies funding -- and a lack of consultation time -- as sticking points.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is also pushing for adjustments. Councillor Bob Kwapis represents the town on the AMO board and said they fear other municipalities with less prior training done will be even worse off than Newmarket.

“This mandate from the province seriously impacts many of the municipalities,” Kwapis said. “We don’t think it’s right to bring a mandate that is that impactful to a municipality, and therefore the taxpayer that has to pick it up.”

The regulation is coming into effect July 1.