IAFF Canada: A Strong Voice for 22,000 professional Fire Fighters
With 22,000 of its members protecting the lives and property of Canadians, the IAFF is truly an international union. The IAFF’s strong presence in Canada is maintained through the IAFF Canadian Office, located in the shadow of Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa, Ontario.
Serving as a conduit for the seamless delivery of IAFF services to Canadian members, the IAFF Canadian Office is fully integrated with the vast resources of IAFF Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Working closely with the staff at IAFF Headquarters, Canadian Office staff provide affiliates with support and research assistance in such areas as collective bargaining, health and safety matters, public relations, crisis management, legislative initiatives and other regulatory issues.
The Canadian Office tailors IAFF programs when necessary in recognition of the unique differences of Canada’s political framework and its labour, legislative and legal systems.
A primary example is in the area of politics and legislation. The IAFF’s Canadian Legislative Program, modeled after the highly-successful U.S. program, is developed and implemented through the Canadian Office.
Like its U.S. counterpart, the Canadian Legislative Program consists of year-round contact with federal Members of Parliament and culminates in an annual Legislative Conference during which the grassroots members descend on the nation’s capital to lobby elected officials directly for action on issues of importance to Canada’s professional fire fighters.
As a result of relentless political lobbying and strategic utilization of the IAFF’s FIREPAC Canada fund, important legislative victories have been secured in the areas of pension reform for fire fighters, Criminal Code amendments to protect fire fighters from the dangers of illegal drug operations and federal funding for the IAFF’s haz-mat and CBRN training programs in Canada.
Other items on the Canadian Legislative Agenda include the establishment of a national Public Safety Officer Compensation (PSOC) Fund, National Building Code amendments and protection for fire fighters during an influenza pandemic.
The Canadian Office has also assisted provincial associations in the battle for presumptive cancer legislation for professional fire fighters. Since 2002, seven provinces - Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick – have passed this important legislation, which recognizes that certain cancers are occupational among career fire fighters and that fire fighters and their families deserve adequate workers compensation benefits. This legislation also exists in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
The IAFF has also developed a Canadian Political Training Academy to deliver advanced political action skills to Canadian members who aspire to run for office or serve in senior roles in election campaigns. Based on the highly-successful Political Training Academy developed by the IAFF in the U.S., the inaugural Canadian Political Training Academy was held in May, 2011 in Ottawa and trained 25 IAFF members from across Canada.
Day in and day out, the Canadian Office works closely with the elected leadership of 179 local affiliates, with the three Canadian IAFF District Vice Presidents, Canadian Trustee and six Provincial Associations to assist in meeting the needs of affiliates at every level.
The Biennial Canadian Policy Conference, held in the years opposite Convention, gives the IAFF’s Canadian affiliates a special forum to debate and vote on the policies that govern the International.
The Canadian Office is an active participant in worker rights and social justice initiatives of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).