Firefighters in Delta have signed a new contract that includes a 20 per cent wage hike over eight years, making them the highest paid firefighters in the province, bringing their salary close to $87,400 a year.
“It was an eight year contract dating back to 2012 at 2.5 per cent per year,” says Chief Dan Copeland of the Delta Fire Department.
The City says it can afford the terms of the new contract without raising taxes because it has one of the lowest property tax places in Metro Vancouver, but critics say it sets a bad precedent for other municipalities.
“This is a very generous contract that Delta has signed, and it’s going to be a lot of pressure on other municipalities to follow suit,” says Jordan Bateman of the Taxpayers Federation, “when there’s a settlement in one, especially a generous one that becomes a starting point for the next.”
In defense of the raise, the City of Delta says firefighters who work for the jurisdiction are among some of the most skilled in B.C.. They are HAZMAT trained in case Delta, a community with heavy industry and a Port, ever face a large-scale hazardous materials incident.
Delta Firefighters are the first in Metro Vancouver to enhance their partnership with paramedics to assist in medical calls, making their department a model in B.C., according to Copeland.
Other skills include fighting wildfires in Burns Bog, which covers 40 square kilometres and occupies about a quarter of Delta.
Bateman says the large wage increase sets an unrealistic precedent for not just firefighters in other jurisdictions but also for other government employees.
“You can bet all over social media teachers will be touting 20 per cent over six years because it’s a big increase. It’s a number that they would love to have.”
© Shaw Media, 2014