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OPSEU members sent to US to support firefighting efforts under strict COVID regulations


A group of 18 OPSEU members is going to Oregon to help fight wildfires that have ravaged that region for weeks. 

The members, who hail from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), are accepting the deployment on a voluntary basis for a term of two weeks. 

“The world and its daily non-COVID struggles continue despite the pandemic and we must continue to help each other domestically and abroad when it’s possible and safe,” says OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Ontarians are compassionate and caring people, and OPSEU is proud of the members who have volunteered for this very dangerous operation.” 

COVID-19 guidelines are being followed strictly to ensure the safety of the firefighters once they arrive at their destination, and upon their return to Canada. The contingent will travel by charter aircraft by the most direct route possible and follow all Transport Canada protocols, including masking and temperature checks. 

Upon return to Canada, they must self-isolate for 14-days and will continue to be paid their regular salary during isolation through a paid leave of absence. While not mandatory, employees will be encouraged to also consider taking a COVID-19 test through one of the provinces testing centres upon their return. 

OPSEU-represented positions identified for this deployment include: Fire Management Technician, Fire Operations Technician, Training Specialist, Prevention Compliance Specialist, Suppression Systems Technician, Outreach Advisor, and Tactical Flight Officer.  “Good luck and be safe,” says OPSEU First Vice President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “OPSEU firefighter members are some of the most talented professionals in the world and we know your efforts will make a difference. We are proud of you.” 

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