A record 230 delegates tuned in to the Jack Jessop Biennial Canadian Policy Conference February 7-8 for two days of business that covered a number of key issues, including occupational cancer, behavioural health resources, vaccine mandates and Canada’s federal political landscape.
Delegates unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the creation of a strategic campaign to help affiliated provincial associations maximize the number of occupational cancers and other diseases covered under their respective presumptive legislation regimes. Delegates also adopted a resolution asking the IAFF to develop resources to help members navigate the process to apply for jobs at IAFF headquarters in Washington, DC or the Canadian office in Ottawa, Ontario.
General President Ed Kelly and General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma both addressed delegates. General President Kelly took the opportunity to sign an agreement Edgewood Health Network (EHN) to provide fire fighter-specific behavioural health treatment and services to Canadian IAFF members through its seven facilities across Canada. The signing was the culmination of over a year of negotiations with EHN Canada. The arrangement is a major step forward in assisting members struggling with mental health and addiction, and parallels the IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery in the United States.
Kelly thanked conference delegates for taking time out of their busy schedules to do the important business of the union. “We all know that our collective might is what has moved this job forward,” he said.
Elections were held for the two Canadian spots on the IAFF Human Relations Committee, with Katrina Davison of Vancouver, BC Local 18 and Clive Deonarine of Ajax, ON Local 1092 topping the vote. Both accepted their elections humbly, while recognizing candidate Ann Bryan of Kingston, ON Local 498, who had served on the Committee since 2013, for her service and dedication.
Assistant to the General President for Canadian Operations and Canadian Legal Counsel Sean McManus gave delegates a legal update on vaccine mandates, covering what has been a pressing issue for Canadian locals. Additionally, provincial association presidents provided updates on key issues in their regions. Canadian Trustee Alex Forrest gave a report to delegates, and IAFF Canada Governmental Affairs Assistant Sandy Hamamoto provided an update on federal politics and the IAFF Canadian legislative agenda.
Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s Pamela Musgrave and Averill Stephenson updated delegates on the organization’s fundraising, which has been affected by COVID-19 but still counts on support from IAFF locals across Canada. Last year, the charity was awarded accreditation through Imagine Canada’s Standards Program after achieving benchmarks for excellence in several areas, including transparency, governance and fundraising.
The conference was named for the late Jack Jessop by means of a resolution at the 55th IAFF Convention last year. Jessop, a beloved leader from the former Toronto, ON Local 113, was the IAFF’s first Canadian director and opened the IAFF Canadian office in Ottawa in June 1969. Known for his determination and his engaging style, Jessop retired in 1990 and passed away in 2011 at 89.
The next edition of the conference will be hosted by Burnaby, BC Local 323 in 2023.