MP Sherry Romanado honoured at Canadian Policy Conference

July 11 • 2023

General President Edward Kelly with MP Sherry Romanado.

The Member of Parliament whose historic fire fighter cancer legislation was recently signed into law was surprised with an honorary IAFF membership June 27 before delegates at the Jack Jessop Biennial Canadian Policy Conference in Burnaby, B.C.

The honour, approved unanimously by the IAFF Executive Board, was bestowed on Montreal-area Liberal MP Sherry Romanado. She received a standing ovation from a grateful audience of IAFF leaders from across Canada.

Seated with her husband, Romanado wiped away tears while accepting a framed certificate from General President Edward Kelly. “Her passion and dedication delivered this historic result for fire fighters, and it will surely benefit future generations of IAFF members and their families,” Kelly read from the certificate before presenting it to her.

Romanado quipped that it’s not often MPs are left speechless. She thanked the IAFF, stating she was proud to stand with fire fighters to address their most pressing issue.

Introduced by Romanado in January 2022, Bill C-224 breezed through the legislative process with unanimous support from all political parties. It establishes a national framework to address occupational cancer in fire fighters, including support for research and knowledge sharing, early cancer screening and detection among fire fighters, and promoting educational needs for the medical community. It also formally proclaims each January as Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month in Canada.

The presentation capped a successful conference that featured a packed agenda and informative sessions on various emerging issues.

Delegates adopted two resolutions at the Policy Conference, one asking the IAFF to fund research into cancer in the children of fire fighters, and another that directs the IAFF to engage as a stakeholder in the Fire Underwriter Survey (FUS) process.

Kelly thanked the more than 130 delegates and alternates for their commitment and commended them for supporting several important victories in Canada, including Bill C-224 and a recent Canadian Government decision to fund the IAFF’s Responding to the Interface wildland training program as a one-year pilot project.

“Our power as the IAFF is the power of those who came before us, who proved their willingness to sacrifice and who defined what it means to be a fire fighter,” Kelly said.

General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma, also addressing delegates, gave an update on the IAFF’s financial situation and urged delegates to stay strong while tackling the challenges before them. “Be fighters, be uniters, and be organizers and have the best conference you’ve ever had,” he said.

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, a former Burnaby fire fighter who also served as Local 323 and BCPFFA President and IAFF 6th District Vice President, opened the conference with a warm greeting for delegates. Also speaking were B.C. Premier David Eby, B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains, Burnaby-area Liberal MP Terry Beech, Burnaby Fire Chief Chris Bowcock, and Canadian Labour Congress Executive Vice President Larry Rousseau.

During the conference, Montreal Local 125 President Chris Ross updated delegates on recommendations that stemmed from a coroner’s inquest into the tragic line-of-duty death of fire fighter Pierre Lacroix, who died in October 2021 during a rescue operation in the St. Lawrence River.

Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association President Greg Horton discussed hard-fought political action victories achieved through the province’s right-wing Progressive Conservative government and Halifax, N.S. Local 269 President Brendan Meagher and VP Joe Triff gave a detailed account of the response to a series of wildfires that ravaged suburban areas of the city in late May and early June. Elected Human Relations Committee member Katrina Davison, of Vancouver Local 18, explained the committee’s role and gave examples of cases the committee has addressed.

Delegates also listened to presentations from Canadian Trustee Alex Forrest and from EHN Canada, the Fire Underwriters Survey, Muscular Dystrophy Canada, the IAFF-FC, and from senior IAFF Headquarters staff on topics including communications, fire insurance underwriting, and PFAS.

Conference hosts Burnaby Local 323 made delegates and guests feel at home with a number of hospitality events, including a dinner atop Burnaby Mountain, with sweeping views of Vancouver and other scenic areas.