Ontario Launches New Incentive Payment for Wildland Firefighting Staff

More than $5 million will be provided to attract and retain critical employees

March 21, 2024

TORONTO – The Ontario government is investing over $5 million to attract, retain and recognize wildland firefighting staff for the 2024 fire season to protect people and communities across the province.

In recognition of the critical services wildland firefighters and pilots perform amid challenging and often dangerous conditions, an attraction and retention incentive payment of up to $5,000 will be provided to employees in front-line fire, aviation and critical support positions to support the 2024 fire season.

“Wildland firefighting staff work tirelessly under very difficult conditions to protect the health and safety of Ontarians, their property and our natural resources. This is a respected and challenging career in our natural resources sector,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “In addition to this incentive, we continue to explore longer-term strategies and solutions to support attraction and retention of critical jobs for future years.”

More than 1,000 front-line wildland fire rangers and aviation crew members are eligible to receive this attraction and retention incentive. These crews are challenged with the critical work of detecting and fighting fires both on the ground and in the air.

In addition to the up to $5,000 given to front-line firefighting staff, in recognition of the valuable support they provide, all other OPSEU-represented support staff in the Aviation Forest Fire and Emergency Services Branch at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will receive a one-time payment of up to $1,000.

These attraction and retention incentive payments build on the government’s ongoing efforts to support wildland firefighting staff, including expanding eligibility for standby and on-call pay, reimbursing eligible expenses related to training and other mandatory courses, providing up to $500 annually towards the cost of special safety boots and actively marketing summer job and career opportunities in this important public safety program.

The government is also taking action to support the wildland fire program with the creation of more than 100 permanent positions to meet the demands of escalated and increasingly complex fire seasons. These positions will contribute to building leadership and experience within our wildland fire program by adding new year-round positions that will support career path opportunities for fire rangers and other staff.

Quick Facts

  • The attraction and retention incentive payments will be made available to OPSEU-represented staff in Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services.
  • Last year, more than 700 wildland fires were reported in Ontario, burning more than 440,000 hectares across the province – nearly triple the 10-year average of total hectares burned.
  • From April through October, wildland firefighting staff provide critical emergency services to detect and supress wildland fires across Ontario.
  • Ontario is internationally recognized as a leader in wildland fire management.
  • In addition to fighting wildland fires in Ontario, wildland firefighting crews and support staff travel to other parts of Canada and the United States when needed.


“The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association is very pleased to see the investment that the Ontario government is making to attract, retain and recognize wildland fire rangers. Northern Ontario communities battle forest fires each year and depend on our fire rangers to keep our communities safe. We all appreciate their tireless efforts not only to protect our municipalities, but also to contribute to the safety and well-being of our entire province.”

– Wendy Landry
President of NOMA and Mayor of the Municipality of Shuniah

“This new investment is part our government’s plan to ensure Ontario is prepared for the upcoming fire season. We are always applying the lessons learned from past emergencies to build a stronger and more resilient province. This incentive recognizes Ontario firefighters’ exceptional contribution towards making our communities safer for years to come.”

– Caroline Mulroney
President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Emergency Management

“Wildland firefighters put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe, and our government will always have their backs. As our government continues to identify additional measures to protect and support wildland firefighters, this incentive is another way we are working to attract, retain, and recognize these frontline heroes.”

– David Piccini
Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

“Today’s investment reaffirms our long-standing support for wildland firefighters and pilots as we enter the 2024 fire season. Ontario’s wildland firefighters and pilots keep communities, families, and critical infrastructure across Northern Ontario safe, and our government has the backs of the hardworking men and women who bravely carry out this work each year.”

– Greg Rickford
Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs