This document is part of the Lobbying Kit for Conservation Officers.
In a province as rich as Ontario in natural resources, conservation officers are absolutely vital.
We are critical, front-line peace officers who protect all of Ontario’s natural resources, including wildlife, fish, crown lands and forests. We oversee sport and commercial fishing and hunting. We educate hunters, anglers, campers and other members of the public on the laws governing Ontario’s natural resources and public safety – and we enforce those laws, too.
But our compensation does not reflect the work that we do. For decades, we have been significantly underpaid in comparison to similar positions in the OPS and law enforcement.
What we do at work:
- Enforce all laws related to natural resources, as well as public safety laws
- Enforce emergency laws related to the pandemic
- Conduct enforcement patrols
- Investigate crime scenes including firearm injuries and human fatalities
- Execute search warrents/search-and-seizures
- Collect forensic evidence
- Lay charges and carry out high-risk arrests
- Undercover operations
- Testify in court
- Educate the public about conservation
The consequences of unfair compensation
Conservation officers get paid a lot less than most enforcement officers and inspectors in the OPS – up to $16,000 less, despite our Ontario Police College training and similar duties.
As a result, morale has never been lower. Conservation officers feel undervalued and ignored. Experienced officers are leaving MNRF for other careers that pay better – and many highly qualified potential candidates never apply.
All the MNRF has to do is say “yes” to fair pay:
Conservation officers have put in many formal requests over decades to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for reclassification and higher pay, in line with similar positions inside and outside the OPS.
All the ministry – our employer – has to do is say “yes”.
Four quick facts about Conservation Officers:
- We are peace officers with Ontario Police College training
- We are the only OPS employees who carry a side-arm due to the danger inherent in our job – every poacher we catch is armed.
- We are often the nearest law enforcement official in many rural communities in Ontario
- We work for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and are members of OPSEU/SEFPO
What the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) says about conservation officers:
“The OFAH is a staunch supporter of the work that Ontario’s conservation officers do. More and more conservation officers are leaving the MNRF for similar, better-paying jobs in other provincial ministries and the federal government. If we’re going to reverse the decline in enforcement capacity, we need the government to double-down on its commitment to recruit, operationalize, and retain the best conservation officers.” (Source)
The OFAH is Ontario’s largest fish and wildlife conservation organization, with 100,000 members and 725 member clubs.