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Time for Action June Town Halls - All details

Our wildland firefighting teams need your help

Staffing crisis puts fire crews and Alberta communities at risk

May 07, 2024

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Wildfire season has already begun, but wildland firefighters and other workers employed by the Government of Alberta (GOA) are heading into it unprepared. They need your help. 

There is a retention and recruitment crisis which has left these AUPE Local 005 members understaffed and under-trained. 

Working conditions are so bad that people who have worked for the Alberta Ministry of Forestry and Parks are leaving in unprecedented numbers. Our experienced staff feel forced to find similar positions with other agencies, including the B.C. government and Parks Canada, which offer better wages, benefits, and working conditions. 

Why does this matter to you? 

Not having enough experienced wildland firefighters is a recipe for disaster.  

It means these brave men and women won’t be as effective at fighting wildfires as they should be. 

If they face another extreme wildfire year like last year—which looks likely, judging by current drought conditions and the warmer temperatures caused by climate change—they will not only face more danger, they will be less able to protect our communities, our homes, and our lives. 

What’s the problem? 

The starting wage for wildland firefighters in Alberta is $22.44 per hour. They can make a 22.5% higher wage working for the B.C. government or 33.4% more at Parks Canada. 

The B.C. government and Parks Canada also offer better benefits and provide a pension, which isn’t available to Alberta wildland firefighters. Other jurisdictions also offer longer contracts. 

As a result, seasonal firefighters in Alberta are leaving in droves to sign up elsewhere. More than 50% of seasonal Alberta workers don’t come back the following year. 

Alberta wildland firefighters also don’t get presumptive cancer coverage that municipal and Métis firefighters get, despite being exposed to extreme levels of carcinogens when they fight fires. 

This means wildland firefighters may miss out on benefits on benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). 

Wildland firefighters with only one or two years of experience are now being appointed to lead firefighting crews. They are being asked to lead crews whose members have even less experience.  

What can you do? 

Sign this letter to your Member of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly (MLA). Call on them to urge Minister of Forestry and Parks Todd Loewen to take immediate action:

We need to tell the Alberta government loud and clear that our wildland firefighting teams deserve dignity and respect. 

We need them to be safe – so that they can keep us safe. 

Download a poster about wildland firefighting.

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  • 005 - Natural Resources Conservation

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