Posted on Nov 7, 2019
NDP Caucus stands with members of elite firefighting squad against UCP cuts
Alberta’s NDP Caucus stood with a group of elite firefighters in Edmonton and Calgary calling on the government to reverse cuts to the Wildland Firefighter Rappel Program (RAP).
The program started about 40 years ago and is being dismantled as one of many cuts made by Jason Kenney and the UCP government.
“These women and men are real-life heroes,” said Lorne Dach, NDP Critic for Agriculture and Forestry.
“The complete disregard they’re being shown by this government is astonishing. Cutting this program without even understanding the life-saving work these crews do makes absolutely no sense. They say they can afford to hand over $4.7 billion to big corporations but they can’t afford to pay for this critical program.”
“These decisions need to involve the people they affect,” said Logan Mahoney, a Rappel Sub Leader.
“We are able to rappel in and cut helipads in remote locations to allow access for other crews,” Mahoney continued. “We would like to stress that this has a major effect on safety and that you can't measure damage that didn't happen.”
The program employs about 63 highly trained firefighters who jump directly into areas where fires have started. The program makes up about 13 per cent of the province’s seasonal firefighter force.
“When Minister Dreeshan says these firefighters only work on two per cent of fires, he’s grossly mistaken,” said Dach. “He may be confusing the amount of time they spend rappelling with the amount of time they spend fighting fires and keeping our communities safe, either way, it’s clear this UCP government has very little regard for the women and men who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us.”
Alberta’s NDP caucus stands with these elite firefighters in calling on the UCP government to reverse this dangerous and shortsighted cut.