Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association
Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association

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Section 21
Feb 15, 2024

The OPFFA plays an important role in advocating for legislative changes to improve firefighter and public safety.  

We advocate for professional firefighters through various strategies to generate support from government decision-makers, elected officials, key stakeholders, and the public.

An important component of our government relations activity is to have a seat at the table on many government committees and working groups, such as the Health & Safety Section 21 advisory committee.

The Ontario Fire Service Section 21 Advisory Committee (the “committee”) will advise and make recommendations to the Minister on matters relating to the occupational health and safety of all firefighters in the Province of Ontario.

The committee will achieve this objective by:

  1. Engaging in bipartisan (employer and labour) discussions on health and safety issues within the fire sector;
  2. Reviewing fire service health and safety issues of provincial scope;
  3. Supporting the development of industry best practices; and
  4. Developing and maintaining guidance material for workplace parties as needed to protect workers within fire services in Ontario.  This guidance material may outline recommended best practices and acceptable standards to be used by workers in the fire service to prevent injury or illness and will comply with the intent and provisions outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations.

The committee will review occupational health and safety issues related to firefighters that have a provincial impact. 

As the committee’s focus is on occupational health and safety issues, its mandate will not address or intervene in:

  • Situations or issues related to ongoing investigations, legal proceedings or a specific MLTSD inspection of a workplace.
  • Issues related to the administration of fire service workplaces normally under the mandate of other ministries or municipalities (e.g. funding, provision of services or programs, human resources, etc.).
  • Labour relations or employment standards issues (e.g. hours of work, overtime, leaves of absence, labour-management relationships, collective agreements, etc.).
  • Issues covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 or addressed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

Committee members are appointed by the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The committee will be composed of an equal number of representatives from Labour and Employers, as outlined below. The committee will have one labour and one employer co-chair selected by and from amongst the committee members.

Members for Labour:

  • Ontario Professional Fire Fighter’s Association = 4
  • Volunteer[1] firefighters = 2

Members for Employers:

  • Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs=4
  • Association of Municipalities of Ontario=2

Only members appointed by the Minister may attend the meeting for decision-making purposes. In the event a member requires a temporary leave of absence (up to 1 year), a designated alternate is permitted subject to the agreement of the co-chairs. Alternates are not permitted for one-off meetings.

If a co-chair is unable to attend a meeting, they may appoint a co-chair from among the members.

[1] Volunteer firefighter as defined in the Fire Protection and Prevention Act,

Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) will facilitate the committee by:

  • Leading the development of guidance notes by the committee, per the process set out below.
  • Providing administrative support to the committee, including:
  • setting the agenda for each meeting, in consultation with the committee co-chairs, one month before each meeting
  • sending out meeting invites with the agenda and meeting materials, two weeks before each meeting
  • arranging guest attendees
  • taking minutes during the meeting and distributing draft minutes for approval prior to finalization
  • distributing the draft minutes and any additional materials within 2 weeks following the meeting

MLTSD will arrange and pay for the meeting location and refreshments.

The following are resources for the committee:

  • MLTSD – Occupational Health and Safety Branch
  • Ministry of the Solicitor General

Resources for the committee will:

  • Attend meetings and provide input but have no voice in the consensus process.
  • Act as technical resources to the committee to ensure that the committee’s recommendations or guidance material align with legislation administered by their respective Ministry.
  • Provide information or clarification on issues that may directly impact or pertain to their respective Ministry.

  1. Decisions will be by consensus[1] of the members in attendance, rather than by voting.
  2. Matters for which no consensus can be achieved will be deferred for further discussion at the next meeting. If consensus is still not achieved, the issue will be fully reported, with an explanation to the MLTSD through the Provincial Coordinator, Industrial Health and Safety Program.
  3. Guests may attend committee meetings to discuss pre-determined topics only at the invitation of MLTSD or at the invitation of the co-chairs.
  4. Matters for inclusion on the agenda will be submitted to the co-chairs one month before a scheduled meeting of the committee. Either co-chair may include matters on the agenda. The MLTSD may include matters on the agenda.
  5. Items not on the agenda may be discussed at the meeting only with the co-chairs’ approval.
  6. The committee shall appoint any required task force and/or technical committee by way of consensus. Approval shall be obtained from MLTSD with respect to their anticipated expenses.

The quorum for committee meetings will be 6 members, with at least 2 members for labour and 2 members for employers. At least one co-chair must be present. Where no quorum is reached, the committee may discuss matters, but no decisions may be made.

[1] Consensus: substantial agreement reached by the members of the committee in attendance; consensus includes an attempt to resolve all objections; it implies much more than the concept of a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity.

Public Services Health and Safety Association will:

  1. Make committee content changes during meetings.
  2. Make the necessary formatting, grammar, and any other required changes.
  3. Confirm the content of draft guidance notes with co-chairs, then send notes to the association webmasters to post for stakeholder comments.
  4. Consolidate stakeholder comments received and bring them to the upcoming meeting.
  5. Finalize content with the committee at the meeting.
  6. Forward the draft note to MLTSD for finalization and posting on Ontario.ca website.

Ministry of Labour will:

  1. Facilitate Ministry review and approval process.
  2. Facilitate French translation and ensure compliance with accessibility requirements.
  3. Post on the Ontario.ca website and inform the committee once posted.
  4. Ensure draft notes are posted on Association websites.

Note:  All Fire Service Section 21 Guidance Notes can be found here: 

ENGLISH: https://www.ontario.ca/document/firefighter-guidance-notes

FRENCH: https://www.ontario.ca/fr/document/notes-dorientation-lintention-des-pompiers

Guidance Notes:

  • are available in English and French
  • are formatted to meet all accessibility and public posting requirements.
  • contain direct links to references and other documents 
  • contain direct links to other referenced guidance notes.

December 14, 2023 - The Section 21 Committee has released two new draft Guidance Notes:

Air Monitoring DRAFT Guidance Note.PDF

Firefighter Safety Around Rail Lines DRAFT Guidance Note.PDF

Comments will be open until Friday, February 23, 2024.  Comments will only be accepted if you use the Section 21 Draft Guidance Note Comment Template and should be sent to: 

Public Services Health & Safety Association
4950 Yonge Street, Suite 1800
Toronto, Ontario, M2N-6K1
Email: firegn@pshsa.ca

Regular meetings of the Section 21 Committee will be on a quarterly basis. Any proposed additional meetings must be pre-approved by the MLTSD.

The Section 21 Meeting Minutes are provided in PDF format.  Please click on the minutes below to view:

Upcoming Events

Ontario Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial
Oct 06, 2024
Queen's Park, Toronto
DeFazio Taylor Health & Safety Labour Seminar
Oct 07, 2024
Sheraton Centre Hotel, Toronto
DeFazio Taylor Health & Safety Labour Seminar
Oct 08, 2024
Sheraton Centre Hotel, Toronto
DeFazio Taylor Health & Safety Labour Seminar
Oct 09, 2024
Sheraton Centre Hotel, Toronto
DeFazio Taylor Health & Safety Labour Seminar
Oct 10, 2024
Sheraton Centre Hotel, Toronto

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