QUEEN’S PARK – Today during question period, Michael Mantha (MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin) pressed Graydon Smith the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on staffing issues in his ministry.
Conservation officers and wildland forest firefighters have raised alarms about staff leaving their positions in search of better pay. MPP Mantha raised these concerns with Minister Smith in the fall of 2022 after receiving concerns from employees currently working with the MNRF.
“If employees are not paid a fair wage, they will end up looking for work elsewhere.” Said Mantha. “Despite the demands placed on these MNRF employees they are being grossly underpaid by this government.”
He highlighted the effects these low wage policies are already having on communities across Northern Ontario. In Chapleau, there are 4 fire crews set to operate this season, down from 10 last season. With deadly forest fires raging across Canada, it is vital that Ontario’s Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Service (AFFES) is adequately staffed to respond quickly to forest fires.
Mantha called on the Minister to immediately address the wage concerns raised by both the conservation officers and the wildland fire fighters.