Pallister Government announces water bombers will be privatized
Michelle Gawronsky speaks to media about privatizing water bomber services in Manitoba
Nov 29, 2018
Despite evidence that privatizing air services will compromise safety and quality, the provincial government announced today that they will contract out water bomber services.
As a result of a request for proposal (RFP) initiated by the government earlier this year, they entered into an agreement with Babcock Canada Inc. to provide services for the suppression of wildfires, including the use of water.
“We’ve seen how unpredictable the weather can be and a typical fire season isn’t as easy to define. You can look no further than the Belair forest fire that hit last October, or just look what’s happened in California recently. We need to know there is no barrier to accessing water-bombers and getting them up in the air protecting our communities,” said Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President.
In 2010, the Government of Manitoba invested in 4 new Bombardier CL – 415 water bombers for 126 million dollars.
“Manitobans paid for these water bombers. Why is the government letting a private airline profit off these planes? They are for the benefit of Manitoba communities not profits for shareholders,” Gawronsky said. “Private businesses are most concerned with making a profit and it begs the question - Will a private airline be tempted to cut corners on safety to maximize profits?”
The move to privatize these services is unpopular with Manitobans – a recent PROBE poll found that 72% of Manitobans are opposed to privatizing the air ambulance and water bomber programs.
“This is extremely discouraging news,” Gawronsky said. “Rural and northern Manitobans rely on forest fire protection. They deserve services based on the needs of Manitobans, not the bottom line of a private European airline firm.”
Over 50 MGEU members that make up the fire suppression unit will be affected by this. These are highly skilled and trained professionals who will now face a lot of uncertainty regarding their jobs and futures.
“The government said before they were elected they would not attack the jobs of civil servants. This is clearly another violation of their promises. These 50+ MGEU members are professionals that know this province and its communities and have fought countless fires saving families, homes and livestock. What a shameful way to be treated,” Gawronsky said.