The Fire Services Sector of CUPE Quebec, SPQ-CUPE has expressed its full support for the public response by the Quebec Association of firefighting and civil security managers, AGSICQ, last week. Their intervention dealt with the consolidation of small departments in Quebec, i.e., “regionalization,” and the need for complete and identical training for all firefighters, regardless of where they work in Quebec.

For SPQ-CUPE, it is a common fight entailing numerous aspects, which were previously discussed with the Ministry of Public Safety. Furthermore, SPQ-CUPE is requesting that a parliamentary commission be established to deal with this issue.

“It is essential that fire departments be regionalized. The government must encourage and speed up collaboration between the regional county municipalities. This process will not only enhance continuing training and the development of new skills but will also ensure that specialized skills are maintained for emergency responses. Unfortunately more often than not these skills are not followed up on annually in many fire departments,” said Stéphane Chartrand, president of SPQ-CUPE Quebec.

“The consolidation of fire departments has been left on the drawing board for far too long in Quebec, because in actual fact, few initiatives ever materialize. Those who have managed to do this subsequently have great stories to tell regarding emergency responses, service to the public and reduced administrative costs. These turf wars must stop,” added Hugo Tessier, vice-president of SPQ-CUPE.

“SPQ-CUPE has noted a flagrant imbalance between the approximately 620 fire departments and the roughy 30 police departments in the provinces. “Firefighting is top-heavy with management in Quebec, and there aren’t enough firefighters. The acute shortage of firefighters in regions is alarming and has been steadily worsening since 2020,” said Chartrand.