General President Harold Schaitberger addressing attendees

Canadian IAFF leaders advanced several fire fighter health and safety priorities, among other issues addressed at the Biennial Canadian Policy Conference in Kingston, Ontario August 21-23.

More than 100 delegates representing 40 Canadian locals and six provincial affiliates adopted nine resolutions at the conference, which has also evolved into a forum to educate Canadian IAFF leaders about emerging issues affecting them as professional fire fighters and union members.

Delegates adopted resolutions asking the IAFF to add a number of items to its Canadian legislative agenda, including controlling the use of chemical flame retardants, establishing a federal cancer registry, seeking funding for research into better personal protective equipment and pursuing the collection of standardized fire incident data.

Delegates also adopted a resolution supporting an expansion of the IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health, Treatment and Recovery in Canada. Myrrhanda Jones, Business Development Associate for Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS), which operates the center, was in Kingston to meet delegates and discussed the Center.

Toronto, ON Local 3888 member and IAFF Peer Support Instructor Hugh Doherty explained the Peer Support program to delegates, while Dr. Heidi Cramm updated the group on research on post-traumatic stress being conducted by the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment, an academic network based at the University of Regina that receives federal government funding.

Other resolutions adopted in Kingston asked the IAFF to educate the Canadian medical community on the need for earlier cancer screening for fire fighters and to use FIREPAC Canada funds to attend the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference as a means of educating municipal leaders about fire service issues.

Delegates also adopted a resolution asking affiliates to support a movie adaptation of Strike! The Musical, which tells the story of the 1919 General Strike in Winnipeg, Manitoba that helped solidify Canada’s labour movement, and one asking the IAFF to establish a budget of $150,000 to hire experienced EMS experts when needed to testify in favour of expanding Canadian fire fighters’ roles in emergency prehospital care. Resolutions that affect budget expenditures will be submitted at the IAFF 54th Convention for final approval.

General President Harold Schaitberger and General Secretary-Treasurer Ed Kelly both addressed delegates in Kingston following an opening ceremony that featured remarks from numerous local and provincial dignitaries.

The six IAFF provincial presidents updated delegates on issues in their jurisdictions, and Victoria Cross, a Senior Strategist with NationBuilder, showed delegates how to use the software to track information and improve community engagement.

Clive Deonarine of Ajax, ON Local 1092 and Ann Bryan of Kingston, ON Local 498

Muscular Dystrophy Canada client Luca “LazyLegz” Patuelli wowed delegates with his dance moves and inspirational story about how he learned to overcome his physical challenges to become a dancer and motivational speaker.

Also at the conference, Clive Deonarine of Ajax, ON Local 1092 and Ann Bryan of Kingston, ON Local 498 were re-elected to the IAFF Elected Human Relations Committee.

The next edition of the Canadian Policy Conference will be hosted by St. John’s, NL Local 1075 in 2019.