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File photo. Courtesy Aviaition, Forest Fire and Emergency Services

Minister says forest firefighting resources in place

By Randy Thoms Apr 2, 2024 | 2:06 PM

The provincial government is defending its investments for this year’s forest fire season.

It includes a $135 million fund to draw upon.

That is more than last year’s budget but less than was actually spent.

Natural Resources Minister Graydon Smith says it is just a start.

“We bring more resources to bear than any government in the history of this province to fight forest fires, continually making investments to improve the situation in this province for communities, for infrastructure, for individuals, and we will continue to do that,” says Smith.

There is concern that Ontario does not have enough forest firefighters in place.

Traditionally there are more than 800 scattered across the province but the opposition NDP claims there are only about half that number in place.

Smith says a recently announced incentive program will help attract and retain forest firefighters.

“We’ve also made other investments, $20.5 million to improve how we fight wildland forest fires, investing in new aerial fire suppression technologies, investing in science and risk assessment, including into collaborative research with universities, building capacity to support indigenous wildland fire management,” says Smith.

The official start of the forest fire season was Monday.