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AUPE Media Release: Alberta government fails to fix wildfire woes

AUPE members say Budget 2024 does not address the recruitment and retention crisis in Alberta Wildfire.

Mar 01, 2024

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EDMONTON—The Government of Alberta has failed to address the root problem with the province’s wildfire response services, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).

Today (Mar. 1), Minister of Forestry and Parks Todd Loewen held a press conference to reiterate what the government has budgeted for the 2024-2025 wildfire season. However, the government’s emphasis on new technology and seasonal contracts does not address Alberta Wildfire’s recruitment and retention crisis.

“The province is not doing enough to attract and retain experienced wildland firefighters,” says AUPE Vice-President James Gault. “New drones and night vision goggles may help us fight fires, but that means nothing if we don’t have experienced teams of boots on the ground.”

Part of the government’s plan is to create five additional firefighting crews. However, without addressing the recruitment and retention crisis, this plan would dilute the shallow pool of experienced workers and make firefighting conditions more dangerous.

“Some of these workers are terrified,” says Gault. “I hear from young wildland firefighters who are appointed to leadership because they have worked one or two seasons and that makes them the most experienced of the group.”

AUPE members working for Alberta Wildfire shared several concerns with the union in advance of the upcoming fire season. Low wages, lack of benefits, and unpredictable contracts make recruiting and retaining seasoned wildland firefighters impossible.

“Why would you risk your life here when you could do a similar job for British Columbia or Canada Parks with significantly higher pay and benefits?” says Gault. “Wildland firefighters have a drastically increased risk of developing respiratory illness and cancer, but the Government of Alberta won’t offer health coverage to help them.”

AUPE is western Canada’s largest union, standing over 95,000 members strong.


To schedule an interview with James Gault, please contact:

Alexander Delorme, AUPE Communications Officer: or 780-264-9274

News Category

  • Media release


  • 005 - Natural Resources Conservation


  • Government Services

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