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British Columbia set to move to year-round BC Wildfire Service

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The B.C. budget is providing more details on how fighting wildfires in the province will become a year-round process. As Ted Chernecki reports, the finance minister is holding up one of 2021's rare success stories, as an example of how communities can be saved. – Feb 22, 2022

As wildfire seasons in British Columbia continue to start sooner and last longer the province is significantly altering the BC Wildfire Service.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson announced on Monday the provincial budget would include the significant funding shift.

Robinson is set to present the 2022 BC Budget on Tuesday afternoon.

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Read more: 2021 fire season ‘tremendously challenging,’ but not worst on record: BC Wildfire Service report

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Additional details, including how much funding will be earmarked for the move and how many staff will be hired, will be in the budget.

“It is a fundamental change, a real shift, that will see B.C. move from a reactive to a proactive approach,” Robinson said.

“It will ensure that B.C. Wildfire Service has trained staff able to both prepare for and respond to wildfires.”

The BC General Employees Union (BCGEU) has been calling on the province to make more permanent positions within the BC Wildfire Service.

The jobs would allow for more time planning and mitigating for the wildfire season, as well as help deal with other disasters including flooding.

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The province declared a provincial state of emergency last summer due to the third most destructive season ever recorded.

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“It is an investment. It is an example of the kind of changes we need to make to strengthen our defenses as we continue the fight against climate change,” Robinson said.

Currently, around 2,000 staff worked for BC Wildfire Service last year but only 267 hold a year-round position.

The BCGEU found 69 per cent of people in the province believe the BC Wildfire Service doesn’t have enough staff and nine out of ten B.C. residents support more compensation for BC Wildfire Service workers.

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