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Winnipeg firefighters’ new collective agreement heading to Executive Policy Committee

Winnipeg firefighters camp out on Osborne Street firehall. Chad Swayze‏/Twitter

Winnipeg’s Executive Policy Committee is expected to vote this week on ratifying a new contract with the city’s firefighters.

The contract between the city and the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg (UFFW), Local 867 of International Association of Fire Fighters includes an average 1.97 per cent annual wage increase over the next three years.

It would also see $104,500 in additional funding each year for mental health supports. That money would be coming from surplus funds realized during the negotiation.

“The City’s psychological injury claims (and attendant costs) have been increasing significantly in recent years, with the highest claims cost arising within the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS),” the public service wrote in its report.

“Consequently, identifying effective measures to prevent and mitigate psychological injury has been an issue of mutual concern for the City, the WFPS and the UFFW.”

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Read more: City of Winnipeg explores taxpayer-funded UFFW salary options

The two parties also agreed the union would begin covering the entirety of President Alex Forrest’s salary and benefits, instead of 40 per cent.

Under a previous agreement, Forrest was placed on permanent union leave, but the city continued paying 60 per cent of his salary and benefits.

The deal raised eyebrows when it was revealed in 2018, with Mayor Brian Bowman saying he wanted it scrapped “as soon as possible.”

The city’s 60 per cent contribution would instead go directly into the mental health fund under the new agreement.

Other changes would increase the premium for firefighters trained as paramedics to five per cent from three per cent after nine years of service, and require such members to maintain that status for 12 years.

Firefighters would also receive fire-resistant t-shirts instead of cotton.

The previous collective agreement expired at the end of 2020.

Executive Policy Committee meets on Wednesday.

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