Province ignoring fire service report, says Opposition
Government working on issues, but 'it will all take time,' says Justice Minister
Fire departments are in jeopardy because the P.E.I. government is ignoring a report released in December that found large gaps in funding and support for many fire services, says the Official Opposition.
The 2013 Fire Services Report, commissioned by the P.E.I. Fire Services Advisory Committee, found a list of problems that P.E.I. fire departments are dealing with.
Progressive Conservative MLA Colin LaVie, a fire chief himself, says the province has largely ignored the report and that fire departments are struggling to cover costs for things like equipment and training.
"The departments have got to take care of fire training themselves, and it's a huge, huge cost to fire departments," said LaVie.
The biggest problem rests with the Fire Marshal's Office, which according to the report, can't satisfy its mandate because it doesn't have enough money or staff, says LaVie.
Recruitment top priority
"There's two to three guys serving 140,000 people. It's a pretty big area. They are understaffed," he said.
Justice Minister Janice Sherry admits the fire marshal's office is stretched too thin right now.
She says the government is working on fixing the problems identified in the report.
"In order to do a really good job, it all takes time," Sherry said.
The minister says the top priority is recruiting more volunteer firefighters.
"We do have issues around the fact that we have a lot of older firemen now. You know, we need to get out there and recruit some younger people."
The government will address the problems in the report, but it needs to work with communities across P.E.I. to come up with some solutions, said Sherry.
The Opposition says the delay is putting fire services at risk.