Firefighting budget could be battered by provincial bill - 1310 NEWS
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Firefighting budget could be battered by provincial bill

Ottawa Fire engine sits near City Hall for a memorial service, September 8, 2017. (Mike Vlasveld/1310 NEWS)

OTTAWA — The province’s planned changes to employment standards could take a $13-million bite out of the city’s firefighting budget.

The Wynne government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act is best-known for proposing a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, but would also require volunteer firefighters to be paid more.

The legislation, if passed, would require part-time workers to be paid the same hourly wage as full-time workers performing the same job. Volunteer firefighters would also be paid a minimum of three hours per shift, regardless of whether they respond to any fires. Currently, volunteer firefighters are only paid for the time they respond to calls.

The City of Ottawa’s resulting increase in firefighting costs could be as high as $13 million per year, according to Postmedia.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says municipal governments were never the province’s intended target of this legislation but that unless exemptions are granted to municipal governments, towns and cities across the province will be forced to either significantly increase property taxes, reduce local services, or both.

Mayor Watson has pledged to keep any property tax increase at or under two per cent.

The city’s proposed 2018 budget will be tabled at city council this morning.

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