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New Labour Law Changes Could Reduce By-law Enforcement, Training

(Tuesday, December 2/2003)-- Recent amendments to provincial labour laws regarding the payment of overtime will cost the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service approximately $300,000 in this fiscal year alone, Chief Michael Eddy said today.

As a result, the Fire and Emergency Service will have to substantially reduce training time for firefighters and reduce overtime for other purposes, such as by-law enforcement.

Some Fire Stations will also see personnel reductions during peak vacation periods.

Chief Eddy said recent amendments passed in the Nova Scotia Legislature require that overtime be paid to most workers at the rate of time-and-a-half after 48 hours of work.. This provincial amendment overrides provisions in the Fire Service's collective agreement with its unionized firefighters.

Phil McNulty, president of the Halifax Regional Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 268, IAFF, said "This overtime legislation will reduce both firefighter and public safety. We negotiated for straight time pay for non-emergency overtime, so management could better provide day-to-day staffing levels consistent with four (4) personnel on apparatus, and to keep fire stations open. This concession by our members increased firefighter safety and enabled us to better serve the public. The effect of the provincial legislation will take us back to pre-2000, where we were constantly lobbying municipal government with our concerns about under-staffing."

Under provisions of its collective agreement with HRM, members of the Halifax Regional Professional Firefighters Association agreed that if firefighters were called into work for training, by-law enforcement or as temporary duty replacements due to illness, etc., they would be paid at straight time. However, if they were called in to fight a fire, they would be paid double-time.

Chief Eddy said "This was a tough concession, and there were lots of trade-offs, but the union members and the Fire Service agreed that this was the way we wanted to go. However, with the recent changes to labour laws, the provisions of the collective agreement will now be over-ridden by the provincial legislation."

The Chief said "We take the obligation to live within our budget very seriously, so unless the Hamm government takes such provisions contained in legally-negotiated collective agreements into consideration, it's going to be harder and harder to maintain the same level of service to the public."


Chief Michael Eddy
Director, Fire and Emergency Services
(902) 490-4238

Phil McNulty
President, Local 268 IAFF
(902) 453-5242

Above content last modified Thursday, November 02, 2023 at 11:40am.