By Laura King
May 1, 2014 – It’s First Responders Day in Ontario, a day to recognize police, fire and EMS workers and all they do.
That First Responders Day happens to coincide with the release of the Ontario budget at 4 p.m. today, and yesterday’s announcement by Premier Kathleen Wynne that Ontario is adding six cancers to the list of those presumed to have been contracted on the job, may be coincidence, or politically intentional.
Breast cancer, multiple
myeloma and testicular cancer will be added immediately; prostate cancer, lung
cancer and skin cancer will be phased in by 2017.
The expanded list of
cancers is the result of a private member’s bill by Vaughan Liberal MLA Steven
Del Duca, introduced on May 30, 2013, that drew all-party support; the Ontario
Professional Fire Fighters Association started lobbying Queen’s Park in 2012 for
better cancer coverage.
First Responders Day is the
result of another private member’s bill, introduced in February 2013 by
Conservative MP Frank Klees. It took less than a year for that bill to go from
first reading to Royal Assent – quite an accomplishment.
As far as I can tell, no
other provinces recognize First Responders Day, although there are municipal
events and there was a push a year ago or so for a national first responder day
that seems to have dissipated; Ontario has now caught up to the most
progressive provinces in terms of recognition of job-related cancers.
Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island remain the only provinces without some kind of presumptive
I have followed the
OPFFA’s actions for the last couple of years as it has worked to convince
politicians at Queen’s Park that firefighters deserve better coverage. The
approach was calculated, scientific, well communicated, and the
OPFFA’s 11,000 members knew the plan and were clear on the message through
union and local websites, social media and other channels.
Mark McKinnon steps down
in June after two years as OPFFA president. Although Mark – a TFS fire captain
who had been a councilor in Whitby for nine years and therefore is politically
savvy – certainly had lots of help on the presumptive legislation file, it’s
nice to go out with a bang. Congratulations.
All that said, I will note
that as I was sitting in the dentist’s chair late yesterday afternoon watching
the announcement I remarked to the hygienist that the firefighters in bunker
gear standing behind Wynne as she spoke looked . . . ridiculous. Station
uniforms would have sufficed – quite nicely I think. Firefighters as props, taking
one for the team.
If you’ve been following
@fireincanada on Twitter you’ll know that Fire
Fighting in Canada and the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) host
our annual golf tournament tomorrow.
I’m a fair-weather golfer
(those who have played with me can kindly refrain from inserting their own
adjectives!). As we speak, it is not actually raining. There are dry spots
between the wet spots on my patio and there are puddles on the grass – not
kidding. It rained Tuesday. It rained – hard – all day Wednesday. It rained
this morning. There’s a bit of a reprieve now and The Weather Network promises
isolated showers Friday with a temperature of – get this – 7 C (feels like 3).
What does that mean? It’s certainly
not a humidex, so is it a damp-chill-you-to-the-bone index or some such thing?
The weather icon for Friday is a tiny little sun partially covered by clouds
and great big rain drops. That’s far from fair weather!
Regardless, it’s a day out
of the office, the company will be good, and we’ll let you know who comes out
on top: my money is on the Pegg brothers – Deputy Chief (and OAFC president)
Matt of Toronto and Chief Jon of Innisfil with their hosts from SafeDesign. The
two have a bit of golf experience . . . it’s right here on Matt’s LinkedIn
The golf tournament opens
a busy week: Saturday’s Ladders Up for the Foundation (www.laddersup.ca) fundraiser for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters
Foundation is a hoot – an evening of music by . . . drumroll please . . .
Bullard’s Manfred Kihn and the amazing Better Under Fire Band (they do a mean
version of Mustang Sally!), plus auctioneer and emcee Ken Kurz – who often persuades
Fire Fighting in Canada publisher
Martin McAnulty to open his wallet very wide! Hey, it’s for a good cause! If
you do a Google images search for Kurz you will find lots of pix of him on
stage, in his bright-yellow Ladders Up t-shirt . . . with his mouth open
(although Ken is not a professional auctioneer, he’s the next best thing – a
fire chief! – and he certainly gets as many words in per minute as the pros!)
If you’re in the GTA, join us Saturday from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Toronto
The OAFC trade show and
conference runs Sunday through Wednesday – I’m looking forward to the
presentations on motivating today’s firefighters, unionizing volunteer
firefighters, lessons learned from the
the Prescott, Ariz., wildfire deaths, TFS Chief Jim Sale’s talk on
leadership tools for tomorrow’s fire chiefs, an analysis of turnout times from
Brampton, Tim Beckett’s session on fitness and leadership, and the two
presentations by the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management.
Watch our twitter feed –
@fireincanada – and our Facebook pages for updates.
I’m off now to buy cheap
golf balls and rain pants.