The Ontario government is investing $700,000 to support four innovative and free training projects designed for 203 professional and volunteer firefighters around the province. Training will focus on fighting fires in hazardous (Mayday) situations for small and rural services to ensure they are equipped and prepared for ground rescue and wildfire scenarios. There will also be courses for automobile extraction, boating and water safety, and elevator rescue.
“Our firefighters are true heroes who face danger head-on and without hesitation to protect our communities and our people,” said Premier Doug Ford. “These new investments will help to ensure they have the training and resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”
Firefighting is among the most stressful careers in Ontario. In recognition of the mental toll, this investment will also contribute to peer support training for suicide awareness and crisis intervention. Two projects will be led by the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, while the City of Mississauga and the Town of Georgina are receiving funding as well.
“Firefighters work tirelessly to protect others and the physical and mental stresses they face takes a toll,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government is proud to invest in training programs that offer peer support and mental health services to ensure our firefighters have the training and experience they need to take care of their communities and themselves.”
In March 2023, Ontario announced plans to expand cancer coverage for firefighters. These changes will make it faster and easier for these heroes and their families to access the compensation and supports they deserve for thyroid and pancreatic cancers from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
“We are thrilled with the announcement,” said Greg Horton, President of the Ontario Professional Firefighters Association. “Professional development and capacity building are core value propositions the OPFFA offers its members. The Association plays a unique role in assessing the continuing education needs of its members and delivering programs to meet those needs. While there is ample training on how to put out a fire and save lives, there hasn't been adequate training on firefighter survival.”
These projects are funded through the government’s Skills Development Fund, a $700 million initiative, which supports ground-breaking programs that connect jobseekers with the skills and training they need to find well-paying careers close to home.