Firefighters and Bill 148: McDonell and PCs table amendments

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Local MPP Jim McDonell and the Progressive Conservative party are proposing amendments to Bill 148 to leave the employment law the same when it comes to volunteer firefighters.

The Official Opposition has tabled amendments to Bill 148 that would allow small and rural municipalities to continue providing volunteer firefighting departments, McDonell said Friday.

“In Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, Bill 148 would drive lower-tier municipal taxes up 36 per cent on average, just to pay for volunteer firefighters, let alone other emergency and essential services,” McDonell said.

“Clearly, the government did not consider the impact their planned labour reforms would have on rural Ontario. It is time they listened.”

On Monday in South Glengarry, Fire Chief Dave Robertson told council the law as it’s written now would see the cost of the fire service balloon from $291,000 to $2.7 million, making the firefighter payroll “unsustainable for our municipality.”

Bill 148, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, has passed second reading at Queen’s Park and is now before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

McDonell said the amendments from the opposition parties have to be in to the committee by Nov. 15 for consideration by the committee on Nov. 16.

The bill would then have one more reading (Third Reading) before it receives Royal Assent, making it law.