by Michelle O’Hara
Attendance: Rick Suche, Fort Garry Fire Trucks; Mike Stone and Dan Stone, A.J. Stone Co. Ltd.; Oran McNabb, AMDOR; Luc Thibault, Battleshield Industries Ltd.; Pino Natale, Dependable Emergency Vehicles; Mike Welte, Hub Fire Engines & Equipment Ltd.; Daryl Kretzschmar, PPE Solutions Inc.; Rob Hosslett, LION; Mark Christie, SafeDesign Apparel Limited; Helene Picard, Aero-Fire; Terry Steward, Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA); Laura Aiken, Fire Fighting in Canada (FFIC); Geoff Evans, Streamlight, Inc.; Ryan Stacey, Metalfab Ltd; Kris Newton, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC).
On October 9th, 2019 Michelle O’Hara, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), facilitated a roundtable discussion with the Canadian members of FEMSA and FAMA. After brief introductions, the group jumped into a conversation on the history of lobbying efforts aimed at the Canadian Government through a Canadian Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC).
While significant efforts to lobby to the government occurred on the manufacturers/dealer side, the GAC ran into challenges when attempting to engage relevant stakeholders. There are significant variations with respect to the federal funding models and the opportunities available in the United States are not available in Canada.
There was a strong desire to reunite the CGAC (Canadian Governmental Affairs Committee) to allow fire service organizations to partner in an effort to improve fire industry standards and to draft and promote new legislation to create a safer Canada.
Mike Stone provided an overview of A.J. Stone Co. Ltd.’s participation at the OAFC’s inaugural Queen’s Park Advocacy Day in May 2019. Stone noted that even though the Advocacy Day was considered a success, it was apparent to the OAFC and their industry partners, that their lobbying efforts require a louder, more unified voice to effect change. This voice needs to be the collective group, all those associated in the fire service industry that can work to create a more safe Canada.
Collectively, the Canadian members of FEMSA and FAMA agreed that they would like to see more industry-wide lobbying efforts and government relations. The OAFC committed to speaking with the Board of Directors of FEMSA and FAMA to convey the group’s interest in the creation of a new Canadian Government Relations Committee. This new committee would utilize the expertise of FEMSA and FAMA to create a political policy platform for the fire service industry. Both Fort Garry, and AMDOR, agreed to help lead the committee. They plan to leverage the experiences and lessons learned from the U.S. GAC committee and adapt them for use to lobby the Canadian Government. Since this roundtable, O’Hara has been in contact with John Granby, co-chair of the FAMA/FEMSA Governmental Affairs Committee, to continue the conversation and to facilitate the next steps.
The Canadian members also discussed meeting at the 2020 OAFC Conference and Trade Show in May to collaborate further on this initiative