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Ontario Hansard - 01-November2018

BRUNT AND KENDALL ACT (ENSURING SAFE FIREFIGHTER AND TRAINEE RESCUE TRAINING), 2018 / LOI BRUNT ET KENDALL DE 2018 (FORMATION SÉCURITAIRE DES POMPIERS ET DES ÉLÈVES POMPIERS EN SAUVETAGE)

Ms. French moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 10, An Act to amend the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 and the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 in relation to rescue and emergency services training for firefighters and firefighter trainees / Projet de loi 10, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1997 sur la prévention et la protection contre l’incendie et la Loi de 2005 sur les collèges privés d’enseignement professionnel en ce qui concerne la formation des pompiers et des élèves pompiers en services de sauvetage et d’urgence.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: Today, together with the families and friends of two men who tragically died, I am calling on this government to support and pass my private member’s bill, Bill 10, the Brunt and Kendall Act, to ensure the safety of future Ontario firefighters and trainees. I’ve been working with these families and firefighter safety advocates for three and a half years now. It has been an emotional journey, but it is my honour to welcome many of them back to Queen’s Park today.

I’d like to welcome the Brunt family, Adam’s parents, Al and Christy Brunt; and family and friends Debbie and Larry Brunt; Brent Pearce; Tracey Pearce; Derek Reynolds; and Terry Smith and Mary Smith.

We welcome the friends and family of Gary Kendall and recognize his family who are watching from home today.

From the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, we are joined by OPFFA Executive Vice-President Mark Train and Oshawa Professional Firefighters Local 465 President Peter Dyson and Vice-President Nathan Langille.

T.J. Thompson was a student with Adam in the course, and joins us along with Alex Van Kralingen, a lawyer involved for over eight years, who spoke today at our press conference. Welcome.

Speaker, my bill seeks to keep firefighter trainees safe in an unregulated, private training environment. They are not firefighters. They are not protected. This bill is comprehensive legislation that creates an entire framework to approve, regulate, register, levy penalties, license and oversee private safety training in Ontario.

I asked the Minister of Community Safety this morning if this government would support my bill, and he said that he rejected the premise of the question. I want to make the case very clearly to this government in hopes of changing their mind. This bill has nothing to do with regulating or certifying firefighters. This is about protecting those who one day want to become firefighters and are vulnerable to a rogue, unregulated private training landscape.

Speaker, three and a half years ago, I learned of the death of Adam Brunt, a young man who wanted to be a firefighter and who tragically died during a private rescue training course. I felt heartsick and was compelled to know what had gone wrong. We then found out that another family, the family of Gary Kendall, had lost a loved one the same way five years before. It has been a long and emotional journey for everyone involved. It has been my privilege to know these families and to struggle through this exhausting and frustrating process with them. It has taken a long time to get here, but hopefully today we can finally move forward.

Before we do, though, I would like to take us back a bit. The reason we are here is because two men died, and I want us to know who they were. Gary’s daughter Myrissa wrote this for me to share: “Gary was 51 when he was involved in the ice water training exercise.... Everything he did in life was for his family.... When he joined the Point Edward fire department he was beyond happy because it was something he could do to not only help protect his community, but it was something he could do to give back.”

Adam Brunt’s father, Al, shared this on behalf of their family: “Adam was our second child, born on January 31, 1985. He touched many lives in his 30 years.... He was unique, with his own style sense.... He was daring and fun-loving, always looking for new challenges....

“Adam ... wanted to be a firefighter,” like his uncle, “a career in which he could dedicate his life to helping others. He had never been happier in school than when he was doing the firefighting program at Durham College. Adam had found his calling....

“We can only imagine the things he would have done if he was still with us.”

Both men died under similar tragic circumstances five years apart. Gary Kendall’s family called for an inquest after his death in 2010 but there wasn’t one. Instead, there was another death five years later and another family grieving.

Like many firefighter hopefuls, Adam wanted to gain experience and pad his resumé to compete for a job with a fire service. There are many private safety and private rescue courses marketed to firefighter hopefuls, and Adam found a Herschel Rescue course on Facebook and assumed it was legit because others had taken it; however, it was an overnight weekend course with 12 students. On the last run of the second day, all 12 students and the instructor jumped in the Saugeen River and floated down one after another through a narrow, swift-moving section of river between two sides of ice. One by one they emerged through the narrow rapids, bobbing out the other side downriver, but Adam didn’t. When he went through the narrows, he was forced under the water and his exposed strap got caught on underwater metal. The young students had neither the skills nor the equipment to reach or save him. They desperately tried, but it was many minutes before actual firefighters arrived, and then it was not a rescue but a recovery.

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T.J. Thompson was one of the other students on that course, and joins us today. She worked with the other students to try to reach him. She even ran up to the road to flag down passing cars to beg for an ice scraper or an axe or a rope or anything to use to reach him. They had no rescue equipment there. So many things went wrong that day, and nothing has been made right.

Adam was a firefighter trainee; however, he was unprotected, and others continued to be, and here is why. These private companies are unregulated. They do not have to adhere to safety standards or industry best practices. Their homemade certificates mean nothing. Their only value is what the fire services give them at job interviews. It is a “buyer beware” situation. Trainees unfortunately assume that private courses must be legitimate since they are allowed to operate in the province.

Adam was a college student, but he took a private course that was not affiliated with his or any other college. Adam was unprotected by any laws or regulations under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Adam was not yet an actual firefighter, so he was not protected by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. If he had been employed by a fire service, their training would have had to have met safety requirements.

The Ministry of Labour does not have any jurisdiction because these training environments are not technically workplaces and these trainees are not employees.

While these firefighter trainees are learning to keep us safe, we still haven’t figured out how to keep them safe. None of these ministries is technically responsible for these trainees or their safety. This is an area that doesn’t fall under any ministry’s jurisdiction, which makes it, in my way of thinking, all our responsibility, and we can fix this today.

Alex Van Kralingen spoke earlier at our press conference. He was the lawyer for the Kendall family in 2010 and again during this inquest. He has invested much time into pursuing justice and solutions. He has said:

“It is crazy, given everything that we regulate in our everyday lives, that this sort of high-risk and technical firefighting training is not regulated.... The government has the power to fix this problem, and this matter needs to be dealt with now. This is not a partisan issue. Keeping firefighters and pre-service students safe is not controversial.”

Mr. Van Kralingen had the opportunity to speak with the current labour minister when she was the PC critic for the Ministry of Community Safety. In fact, there’s a part of her letter that I would like to share now:

“I am writing to you as the PC critic for community safety to express my support for the jury recommendations arising out of the inquest into the deaths of volunteer firefighter Gary Kendall, and pre-service firefighting student Adam Brunt, both of whom tragically lost their lives during separate training exercises operated by the same unlicensed private company....

“It is clear that establishing clear training standards and regulations along with proper mechanisms of oversight and regulation would prevent further deaths and/or injuries.”

Speaker, I hope that this government will decide to stand up for safety and standards and will pass this bill through to committee.

I would also like to share a part of a letter from Miss Thompson, who, as I mentioned earlier, has been a relentless advocate since Adam’s traumatizing death. She testified for hours at the inquest, and I thank her for her perseverance. She has said:

“I was one of the 12 students training on the swift, icy Saugeen River on February 8 when Adam Brunt was killed. Adam’s death was preventable in many ways and completely unnecessary. Firefighters take risks when there is life and property to be saved and protected. This was training. There was no reason for unnecessary risks. Reasonable precautions for safety were not taken. It was not a sacrifice for another life....

“I call on this government to protect this vulnerable group of inexperienced trainees from unregulated training providers who choose to operate below the best industry practice. They need to be protected.”

Speaker, I have written four letters to government ministers. I have given two members’ statements. I have asked a direct question to the former Premier about regulating this industry. I held a press conference with the families and firefighters to call for an inquest. There has been a police investigation and a Ministry of Labour investigation. I have met with former ministers and their policy folks. We had a two-week inquest in May 2017. My motion to adopt all of the recommendations of the coroner’s inquest jury passed through this House last year with unanimous support. I have introduced this bill twice. I asked another question of this government today and, this afternoon, held another press conference. Now, here we are, deciding finally whether or not to regulate this rogue industry.

When I spoke to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services after question period, he said that I should have told him about it. He had been briefed that it was about an unrelated issue. Well, how can that be possible? I have not surprised anyone. I am not playing “gotcha” with this government. I have sincerely worked to ensure that this bill will pass and become law so that people don’t die.

For the government and the government members who also were not clear about what was in this bill that I tabled back in July: Most private members’ bills require a few lines to solve a specific issue. This bill is unlike any that I have undertaken. I want to thank legislative counsel, Lord love them, and the experts who worked with me line by line for months to get this right.

It is seven pages; it’s essentially government legislation. It is comprehensive framework legislation that gives the responsibility for development and design of courses, their regulation and oversight to the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, where it belongs. It amends various acts and brings all of the pieces relevant to safety and rescue training under their jurisdiction, where it belongs.

Right now, the Minister of Community Safety and I could decide to make a few thousand dollars on a weekend and advertise and offer a course on ropes, swift-water rescue, high-angle rescue—or bungee-jumping rescue, if we want to invent that—and offer it to students, make up what we want to teach, charge whatever we want, cross our fingers that no one is injured, and print off a homemade certificate for them to show a fire chief at a job interview, because all of that is allowed.

This bill changes that. Instructors would need to be licensed, satisfy the fire marshal that they would be teaching a standardized course that is needed in the province, meet basic safety standards during training, and appropriately assess and certify participants through the Office of the Fire Marshal upon completion.

The bill lays out a penalty structure, should something go wrong or if the course instructors do not comply with the rules and standards.

Students would be learning something of identified value and getting something measurable out of it.

All of the students at the inquest said that if there was a legit course offered by the fire marshal, something like what they found on Facebook through this private company, they all would have taken it because they would have known that it was legit. Every safety or rescue training course offered in the province should be registered, regulated and overseen by the province. We should know what we’re teaching and where—in this case, appropriately through the Office of the Fire Marshal, who is already responsible for training curriculum for firefighters. It is the right solution.

Any fine-tuning that the government would suggest, they are welcome to do, and it should happen at committee, to ensure that future trainees are protected.

Gary and Adam are remembered as being men who wanted to keep others safe and protected, and I challenge all of us in this House to endeavour to do the same. We must pass this bill that establishes the framework for licensing, curriculum, regulation, penalties and oversight of the private safety training industry, and keep firefighter trainees safe. We must keep them safe, Speaker, because they would do it for us.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate? I recognize the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Hon. Michael A. Tibollo: I want to thank the member from Oshawa for bringing forward this bill today and giving us this opportunity to debate it.

I’d like to first begin by thanking our brave and hard-working front-line officers, including the many dedicated firefighters across this province, for the tremendous and dangerous work they do to keep our communities safe.

Thank you also to the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community, their province and their country. Words cannot express how truly grateful all of us are for their service. Our thoughts are with the families and their loved ones today and this month of November and always.

Mr. Speaker, we must do more to protect the hard-working and dedicated men and women of our fire services within this great province. However, there are some serious concerns that may emerge, should the bill be passed in this Legislature in its present form.

During the election campaign, we stated that the status quo had failed. We committed to providing the necessary tools and resources to our dedicated front-line officers, so they would be able to perform their duties safely and effectively.

Our government for the people recently acted to repeal a regulation under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act which would require all firefighters in this province—be it full-time firefighters or volunteer firefighters. We took action to repeal this regulation, based on our consultations with municipalities and their respective fire services. An extraordinary number of these municipalities and fire services voiced their concerns regarding the mandatory certification that was to be implemented in 2019.

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Our government for the people is hard at work to develop the best policy interventions and solutions to help keep our first responders and the many people of this province safe.

As I’ve said before in this Legislature—I believe in July, as reported in Hansard—I welcome any and all members to work with me and discuss how we can best address public safety across the province. Unfortunately, the member from Oshawa did not approach me at any time to discuss how we could work together to address public safety in the province. I hope that in the future this will change. I truly believe that we are all here to make a difference and ensure our communities are safe.

Speaker, I stand here today and support this bill. However, there are some unintended consequences posed to the public safety of the people of this great province. It also places a tremendous burden and pressure on the province’s Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. This bill that we are debating here today would force the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management to develop minimum safety standards for rescue training courses based on the National Fire Protection Association standards. While the National Fire Protection Association standards are utilized throughout the world, requiring the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management to have the ability to create or adopt minimum safety standards is duplicative of the work that already is provided by National Fire Protection Association standard number 1670.

In addition, there are significant consequences presented within the bill. The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management does not have the authority to accredit training delivery providers to provide certified courses. Furthermore, the number of providers of courses will see an increase, though we will not know to what extent this increase will be. In other words, the Office of the Fire Marshal does not currently have the resources to implement the proposed certification contained within the bill.

I’d like to thank the member for bringing this bill up for debate here in the Legislature this afternoon. As Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, I must do what is right to ensure the safety and security of the great people of this province as well as our hard-working and dedicated emergency responders and front-line officers. Notwithstanding the consequences associated with this bill, I support this piece of legislation here today. I hope that in committee it can be streamlined to fulfill its intent in not creating any unwarranted consequences.

Our government for the people is continuing to ensure public safety across the province. As I’ve stated many times before in this Legislature, public safety is of paramount concern to our government.

At the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference, our government heard, loud and clear, about how many of the province’s fire services were being unfairly burdened by the previous government’s legislation. We’re working hard to correct these pieces of legislation so that we continue to ensure public safety across the province. Ontarians deserve to feel confident in the safety of themselves and their families. I can assure all members of the Legislature that we will continue to work hard to keep all Ontarians safe.

Again, I’d like to thank the member for bringing this bill before the Legislature this afternoon. I truly hope that in the spirit of working for the best interests of the people of this province, we can collaborate and speak about these things early on as opposed to waiting for the last minute.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s an honour to be able to rise today, on behalf of the NDP caucus on the Brunt and Kendall Act.

First of all, I’d like to express our condolences to their families and to their friends, and our respect for the work you have done since to help protect others.

Everyone in this House has been elected because they want to represent people. They want to do good things for people, regardless of party. Having been in this House since 2011, I fully realize that. This is a partisan place. We disagree with each other on a lot of issues.

There’s a habit in this place of saying, “the magnificent work done by member such-and-such.” I’m not always in that habit, but you could not have a better member to drive an issue forward than the member for Oshawa. She listed the things that she has done to push this issue forward.

I commend the minister and his members for, compared to what we heard this morning, recognizing and changing the direction. But to say that the member for Oshawa—that this was a last-minute thing, is incorrect. Since the election, you’ve been very busy—I can understand that—with the change of government. But this issue has been before this House for a long time. And because of the severity of this issue, it has tugged at our heartstrings for a long time. It’s one of those where you wonder why it wasn’t acted on before.

As with any legislation, will there be problems to try to get it done? I have full faith that the member for Oshawa has gone above and beyond what any opposition member would do to make sure that this legislation would work, knowing the member. I don’t always agree with the member for Oshawa, but having been on the other side of the table sometimes from the member of Oshawa, I know she does her homework.

So this isn’t a last-minute issue.

One of the things the minister said was that the fire marshal would be forced to create minimum safety standards and that would cause grief for the fire marshal’s office, maybe because the fire marshal’s office needs more support. But right now, for people who aren’t firefighters yet and who want to be trained to do the best job they can to save other people’s lives—these are the people who run toward danger while we are running away, and the people are looking for that training because they want to do that. I commend firefighters and anyone who wants to be a firefighter, whether they’re professional or volunteer. They’re the people who want to do that. The fact that there is no minimum safety standard at all currently in this province for someone who wants to take that training—that is not something that we can, in all good conscience, leave on the table. We cannot leave that on the table. The fact that that has been left on the table is a travesty. The fact that we lost one—one is one too many—but the fact that we lost two, that two families had to lose precious lives because we have no minimum standard, no standard at all.

We’ve just had a change of government. This is an issue that—I thank the minister for his support. I’m hoping that the government does support this bill. This bill has to go to committee, and this has to get done. It is fully within your power to get this done.

I know it’s often said, “Oh, this is a partisan issue”; this one isn’t. For the families who might not know, there are lots of political issues in firefighting. We know that. The minister described some of them. This one really isn’t. We know that people who take that training currently—and there might be good training spots and bad training spots, but there’s no minimum standard. When you have no minimum, you have a problem.

Can you imagine, Speaker, if at some point a third family has to go through what those two families have gone through because we are worried that the fire marshal might not have the resources to do minimum standards? We have got to do better than that. You have the chance to do better than that. We will fully support your efforts to do better than that in this bill.

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This bill needs to not just pass here today. It needs to go to committee, where it will be fully studied and amended, to make sure it can work and be passed so that for families like that—no one should have to die in vain, but so that their family members didn’t die in vain. We can do this together.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. Will Bouma: It’s an honour to rise today in the House to talk about this important private member’s bill, and I want to thank the member from Oshawa for bringing it forward.

I do have to respond on behalf of the minister. It is unfortunate that there wasn’t a lot of direct communication between the member and the ministry regarding this, and I think that’s where these miscommunications come from.

As many of you know, I am a volunteer firefighter in the county of Brant and have been one for the last 10 years.

Bill 10, Brunt and Kendall Act (Ensuring Safe Firefighter and Trainee Rescue Training), 2018, makes amendments to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, and the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, to implement important measures to provide for the safe training of firefighters and firefighter trainees in rescue and emergency services.

There are thousands of young men and women in Ontario who want to become firefighters. Many of these people seeking employment have to compete with thousands of other candidates vying for the few positions that become available. It’s not easy, and the best way to stand out above the others is to have an impressive resumé with a lot of rescue training. The issue before us today is that we do not have minimum safety standards for these rescue training courses taken by or offered to firefighters or firefighter trainees.

The Brunt and Kendall inquest of 2017 has put the spotlight on this issue. Mr. Adam Brunt, 30, died on February 8, 2015, and Mr. Gary Kendall, 51, died on January 31, 2010, during activities involved in firefighter cold water rescue training. The 30-year-old Adam Brunt drowned in Hanover, Ontario, when his survival suit got caught on a piece of metal underwater, as we heard.

Terri Jo Thompson, one of the five others in the river with Brunt on February 8, 2015, testified that she only learned that their instructor had a knife during the inquest. It’s a piece of equipment that all of the students should have been given, she said, alleging that Brunt might have used it to be able to cut himself free.

“We had nothing in that first five minutes,” she told CBC Toronto. “We had nothing to work with until Hanover Fire [department] brought us tools.”

Speaker, according to the testimony of several witnesses, Brunt was underwater for roughly 15 minutes.

The events leading up to his death and that of firefighter Gary Kendall, who died in a course given by the same company five years earlier, were the subject of the coroner’s inquest.

One of the questions that came up repeatedly throughout the inquest was why private companies offering the arduous ice and water rescue courses are not regulated by the province.

That’s why I will be supporting this private member’s bill, and I encourage every member in the House to do so today.

I want to mention a couple of key items that this bill will do.

The fire marshal will be required to develop and maintain minimum safety standards for rescue training courses taken by or offered to firefighters or firefighter trainees. The bill sets out requirements respecting the development of the minimum safety standards that the fire marshal is required to meet.

The fire marshal must publish the minimum safety standards on the website of the Office of the Fire Marshal. It requires that a committee of subject matter experts be established to conduct reviews of the minimum safety standards, and to make recommendations respecting any necessary changes.

The fire marshal is required to respond to recommendations and make any necessary changes to the minimum safety standards.

The bill also provides for the certification by the fire marshal of rescue training courses to meet minimum safety standards.

All of this is good. These changes are needed and will protect firefighter trainees and firefighters down the road from potential accidents.

Again, thank you to the member from Oshawa for bringing this important bill forward today.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to be a firefighter all my life. When I was 18, our hoof trimmer on the dairy farm was going to get me into London full-time. He said, “You’re a big guy and you’re strong.” My brother said I had the brains to go to university and I needed to do that instead. Look where it brought me.


Mr. Gilles Bisson: Boy, you’re really slumming it now.

Mr. Will Bouma: Absolutely. Bad company corrupts good morals.

But I still get such a thrill out of riding in the red trucks, and I know exactly what those young men wanted to do. And I understand: I’ve been to the testing—2,000 guys out in a place in Hamilton, and they’re taking 10 to 20 people. It’s so competitive, and you’ll do anything to get that edge.

I know how these companies are able to stay in business. That’s not painting them all with the same brush; I don’t mean to do that at all. But I think it’s time that we stood up for these young men and women who are so driven to protect our people. I think we need to pass this legislation today.

To the families who have come: Thank you so much for being here. I offer my sincerest condolences for your loss. I know what drove them, and it is the greatest feeling in the world to be running towards something that other people are running away from. Thank you for being here today. I really appreciate it.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m glad to be able to speak to this motion. I just want to echo something my colleague from Timiskaming–Cochrane said, and I think it needs to be said, which is that the member did her homework on this. It’s not as if this is something that came out of nowhere. She has been working on this issue for years. She has been dealing with the families and firefighters in order to be able to rectify what is a really tragic situation that was allowed to happen. It’s something that we can do to fix it.

I want to draw members’ attention: We’re all wearing poppies here. We’re wearing poppies because we are respecting and saluting those who served in our Canadian Armed Forces over the years, some of whom gave their lives, some of whom served and came back. Imagine if we were in a situation today where we were talking about an initiative in order to support our veterans when it comes to the equipment that they need to do their job in the field.

I was a soldier; I was a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment. I was a very fortunate individual because I lived in a country called Canada that had the Canadian Armed Forces that provided the equipment and the training to the soldiers that we trained. It was known at the time, and it’s probably still known today, that the Canadian Armed Forces were the best-trained forces in the world. Alexander Haig—I remember listening to him at a parade I was at one year—said, “Give me the Canadian soldier and give me the American equipment, and I can take it all over”—as a joke.

But the point was, we provided the supports to our soldiers so that they could be trained, go in harm’s way on behalf of their nation and do their job. We not only trained them; we provided them with the equipment.

Why would we, as a Legislature, not do the same thing for the people who rush into fires in order to take us out of harm’s way? Why don’t we provide the training and the support to those who are putting their lives on the line, to make sure that if a tragedy happens to us, we’re made safe?

I never wanted to be a firefighter, because I’m a bit of a coward, to be honest. I don’t want to run into a burning building. Don’t ask me why I went into the Armed Forces—that doesn’t make any sense. But my point is, I chose not to. But to those men and women who decide to go, we owe them everything.

For the Solicitor General to say that maybe the fire marshal can’t do it right now because of circumstance or whatever—poppycock. We can do anything we want in this Legislature. We’re not talking about billions of dollars here. We’re talking about setting up a regulatory standard that is enforceable, so that those who are being trained to run into situations to save us when we’re in harm’s way have the training and the support they need to be able to do their jobs and not unnecessarily put their lives at risk in that training. If we can’t do that, as a minimum, I think it reflects badly on all of us.

I get a sense that there’s a bit of a change of mood here in the House today. We started the day and it didn’t look as if the government was going to support this initiative. It looks as if it’s going the other way, and I’m glad that’s the case.

We owe it to those people who are out there every day, who never know, when the bell rings, what they’re going to run into. That might be their last day. If it is their last day, for those of us who survive and for the colleagues they work with—they’re prepared to make the sacrifice, but let it not be a sacrifice in vain because we did not train them well, we did not support them well and we did not do the things that had to be done in order to make sure that they have everything they need when it comes to being able to do their job.

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With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this time in debate.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate? Further debate? Then I turn to the member from Oshawa for her—

Interjections.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Then I assume you have two minutes plus two minutes.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I’d like to thank my colleagues around the Legislature, the members who spoke during this debate and discussion. I, again, would like to thank the families and safety advocates who have been to Queen’s Park, now, a lot of times for three and a half years. So thank you very much for your support and your guidance.

I think it’s important for this government and this House to do the right thing, because it is about basic safety and creating a system to ensure that rogue enterprise can’t operate in this province and endanger our future first responders and our future firefighters. This bill has been a labour of love born out of loss. There was a lot of emotional and expert input that went into its creation, and the solutions are the right fit in order to pass the bill to committee.

I appreciate the comments from the Minister of Community Safety. He is not wrong in his comments about the capacity of the Office of the Fire Marshal and emergency management. As it stands now, they do not have the capacity or the resources to enact all that is in this piece of legislation.

But that’s where it will come out in committee because, I’ll be honest, what happened—taking us back in history—with the last government is, we were beating our heads against the wall, trying to get somewhere and having meetings with assurances that this would move forward and it was a priority of the government. It got to the end of the session and I realized I was going to have to do it myself.

So along with legislative counsel, the families and experts, we drafted that legislation on behalf of the government. We literally wrote what could have been government legislation, creating a structure and hoping for that capacity and the resources, to the minister’s point, for the Office of the Fire Marshal—because it didn’t belong. These individuals didn’t belong to any ministry. We came up with a solution that could work.

So it is a really strong piece of legislation, but I will absolutely admit that should this bill go to committee, it’s going to take a fair bit of time, because someone has to be responsible, someone does have to take this on. We felt that the Office of the Fire Marshal was the right place, but it is very involved. It is sticky and tricky, and that is why it took us so darn long to come up with that piece of legislation. But it deserves a fair shake in committee. By the way, a heads-up, it won’t be one to time-allocate; it’s going to take the time.

This bill really has been my privilege to work on. I am sorry that the government felt surprised by it, but at the same time, as I outlined, this has been a long time coming. It has been on the order paper. I gave a full heads-up that it was coming; I haven’t been hiding it. Maybe that’s an internal look for folks who are watching our bill.

Some of them are going to be worthwhile and worth embracing and considering, so thank you for giving the opportunity to me and to the families today to have this bill move forward. I thank the minister for his support on this initiative. I hear him and believe him when he talks about prioritizing public safety. This is the perfect opportunity to bring all of those minds to the table and ensure that it happens.

Again, thank you to the family, and thank you, Speaker.

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