Ontario adds $20.5M in funding to fight wildfires, including for training and drones

Timmins

Ontario’s natural resources and forestry minister says the government will spend an additional $20.5 million over three years to help fight wildfires.

Graydon Smith, making an announcement in Timmins, Ont., says this recent fire season has been one of the most challenging in recent memory.

The government says more than 700 wildfires have been reported so far in the 2023 season, burning more than 4,200 square kilometres across the province, which is nearly triple the 10-year average.

Smith says the money will be used for new aerial fire suppression technologies such as drones, recruiting new fire ranger staff, supporting Indigenous wildland fire management and investing more in risk assessment.

The government also says it is developing a psychological safety program to help protect the mental health of staff working in the wildland fire program.

The province says it is also addressing barriers to fire ranger recruitment by reimbursing eligible training expenses and “reviewing” stand-by and on-call pay.

Banner image – Barrie 360 – June 2023 – smoke from wildfires hangs over Kempenfelt Bay, Barrie

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 12, 2023.

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