It was early August 2022, when Michelle Wigmore was on her way back from leading a crew of wildland firefighters near Grande Prairie, Alta. They stopped for a coffee in Fox Creek, about 230 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

“There was a ‘help wanted’ sign up and the wage that they were offering at the Tim Hortons was higher than all our crew members,” said Wigmore in an interview with CBC’s What On Earth.

While they made a joke of it at the time, Wigmore — who has about three decades of experience fighting wildfires in Ontario and Alberta — says it felt unfair when she considered the amount of training and work involved in the job.

Low wages are one of the reasons Wigmore and others say wildland firefighters in Alberta are not returning to the seasonal jobs, resulting in a dwindling number of experienced firefighters and creating potential safety risks to personnel and the public.

Other reasons include “lack of benefits [and] lack of potential opportunity in the organization,” said a former wildland firefighter, whom CBC News has agreed to call by one of his initials, D, because of concerns speaking out could harm his livelihood.

  • Mongostein
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    2 months ago

    Nope. School bus drivers were asked to work as drivers for firefighters last summer but they were offering two weeks on/ two weeks off for $20/hour for 8 hour days, food and accommodations not provided. They said to bring at tent.

    I said no fucking way.

      • Mongostein
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        2 months ago

        Exactly. And staying in some empty piece of land with nothing nearby while only working 8 hours a day.

  • pbjamm@beehaw.org
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    2 months ago

    Would you like to do this vitally important job that requires travel, training, hard labour, living rough, and includes heightened risk of serious injury all for minimum wage?

    Seems the answer is obvious.

      • pbjamm@beehaw.org
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        2 months ago

        Poetic license.

        It is not actually minimum wage, but it is no where near far enough from it.

  • Murdoc@sh.itjust.works
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    2 months ago

    Maybe they should make a reality tv show about it, entertainment is way more lucrative than saving lives. I mean, if they can make crab fishing a show… 😞

  • AutoTL;DR@lemmings.worldB
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    2 months ago

    This is the best summary I could come up with:


    “There was a ‘help wanted’ sign up and the wage that they were offering at the Tim Hortons was higher than all our crew members,” said Wigmore in an interview with CBC’s What On Earth.

    While they made a joke of it at the time, Wigmore — who has about three decades of experience fighting wildfires in Ontario and Alberta — says it felt unfair when she considered the amount of training and work involved in the job.

    But in the last 10 years, things have gotten significantly worse and we’re essentially seeing people come to Alberta, get their training, work one, two, three seasons and then move on to, typically, Parks Canada or B.C.

    It has been “one of the best recruitment years ever,” for seasonal wildfire fighters, according to Todd Loewen, Alberta’s minister of forestry and parks, though he said this assessment is based on the number of people who responded to the first round of advertising for those positions.

    Unlike some other wildfire agencies, such as Parks Canada and those in Northwest Territories, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, seasonal firefighters in Alberta receive no health benefits coverage.

    But he worries that hiring more seasonal staff in the middle of a “retention crisis is irresponsible” by spreading the pool of more experienced crew leaders even thinner across the various teams.


    The original article contains 1,114 words, the summary contains 222 words. Saved 80%. I’m a bot and I’m open source!

  • corsicanguppy
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    2 months ago

    If only we (the RoC) had a standing cohesive labour force trained to deploy quickly, bivouac quickly and then do fire stuff.

    We’re close: we used to have a labour force like it, but they weren’t firefighters. Then the conservatives defunded it.

  • Yezzey
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    2 months ago

    If I got paid for 8 hours and did 4 hours work, yes

  • Scubus@sh.itjust.works
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    2 months ago

    I mean it’s better than working 7.50/h also with no benefits. I might not live long, but I’d have three times the money I otherwise would’ve.

    • HamsterRage
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      2 months ago

      Except this is Canada, and $7.50/hr is about as relevant as comparing it to child labour in a t-shirt factory in Bangladesh.

        • lad@programming.dev
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          2 months ago

          There are immigrants in Canada, they’re just treated better than talking furniture

          Oh, but I guess you meant for you to immigrate, that might work, sure

        • ILikeBoobies
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          2 months ago

          I wouldn’t call us an immigrant friendly country but if you can put up with that or live in your culture ghetto then you might want to be here