Ontario Supporting Local Fire Services in the North
CONMEE — The Ontario government is launching a new program through the Northern Fire Protection Program to reimburse municipalities that provide protection services in parts of the province that don’t fall under any municipal boundaries, known as unincorporated areas. Through this reimbursement program, the province is allocating funds to help northern municipalities recover costs associated with responses into areas without fire protection services such as search and rescue, medical, motor vehicle collision and property fires that are not covered by any other funding agreements.
“Northern municipal fire departments, many made up of volunteer fire fighters, step up in a big way when they are called to help Ontarians in unincorporated areas,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “This new program will make it easier for municipalities to recoup costs associated with responding to emergency calls for assistance and ensure they are not paying out of pocket for their important efforts.”
The types of calls that are eligible for reimbursement include:
- Structure fires and carbon monoxide-related incidents
- Search and rescue operations and emergency medical care
- Motor vehicle collisions occurring on roads that are not provincial highways
- Hazardous material requests
“We’ve heard from northern and rural municipalities, including at the ROMA conference earlier this year, that they need the province’s support to deliver these services in a financially sustainable way, and our government has listened,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This new funding will help municipal fire departments continue to help us keep Ontario safe, while also recovering their costs.”
The program will be administered by Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal.
- Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal oversees the Northern Fire Protection Program, which provides assistance and support for fire protection services to 48 communities without municipal organization however not all of unincorporated Ontario has defined fire protection services. Neighbouring municipal fire departments may assist with responses into these areas when emergencies occur.
- The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities represents and advocates on behalf of 110 cities, towns and municipalities in Northeastern Ontario.
- The Rural Ontario Municipal Association represents rural municipalities across the province.
“Our volunteer fire services are the backbone of northern municipalities. They provide valuable on-call services to their home communities and also never want to deny their skill and knowledge to anyone in need. Today’s important announcement recognizes the valuable services these volunteers provide and offers a level of security to those who answer the call. I want to thank our provincial government and Minister Jones for again listening to and acting on our northern concerns.”
– Danny Whalen
President, Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities
“We are pleased to continue working with fire services in the north that enhance fire protection services and public safety in unincorporated areas. These departments demonstrate dedication to serving and protecting citizens across Ontario.”
– Jon Pegg
Fire Marshal, Province of Ontario
“The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association is grateful to the Ontario government for this new funding program. This investment will have a significant positive impact on all communities in Northern Ontario. This is an important step to ensure municipalities are not burdened with the costs of providing fire service to those outside of their municipal boundaries. We greatly appreciate every effort made to reduce the burden on municipal budgets and ensuring all people receive the services they need.”
– Wendy Landry
President, NOMA, Mayor, Municipality of Shuniah
“As the long-serving mayor of a Township that borders an unincorporated municipality, I am pleased that the Ford government has responded to our concerns. This funding announcement will allow us to continue to offer emergency services support to the surrounding unincorporated areas, without placing an undue financial burden on our municipal taxpayers. We thank Premier Ford and Solicitor General Jones for their commitment to building partnerships at all levels of government.”
– Kevin Holland
Mayor, Township of Conmee
“The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs is very pleased to see this expansion of the Northern Fire Protection Program to include reimbursement for expenditures provided during emergency responses in unincorporated lands. By reimbursing departments for these emergency response services, the province is investing in the health and safety of Ontario’s firefighters and those we protect.”
– Rob Grimwood
President, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs