Orillia dispatchers’ jobs preserved through collective advocacy

November 21, 2023
Emergency Call Centre Dispatch

Orillia, Ontario, has recently witnessed a significant turn of events concerning its local dispatch system.

Following a strong advocacy campaign, the city reversed a decision to outsource dispatcher services, securing the jobs of four members of the Orillia Local 1100.

Collective efforts lead to job security

The advocacy was led by Orillia ON Local 1100 and the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA).

The decision to contract out the service was challenged, citing the ‘no contracting out’ clause in their collective agreement.

The union and OPFFA worked tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring adherence to the agreement.

Funding and upgrades for NextGen 9-11

In response to this advocacy, in late October, the city allocated $360,000 to upgrade its dispatch system to NextGen 9-11.

This advanced digital platform enhances emergency response capabilities, allowing callers to send texts, photos, and videos in addition to voice communications.

This upgrade is aligned with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandate, requiring emergency dispatch systems across Canada to advance to NextGen 911.

Community benefits and enhanced safety

Brett Eeles, President of Orillia Local 1100, expressed satisfaction with the decision, emphasizing the importance of local dispatch for firefighter and public safety.

OPFFA Secretary-Treasurer Bob McCutcheon highlighted the unique nature of the city’s dispatch system, which coordinates fire, police, and ambulance services.

He stressed that maintaining a local communications center is crucial for avoiding service delays and reductions.

Additional victories for Orillia firefighters

This decision is the second major win for Orillia firefighters. Previously, the city had allocated new funding for overtime and reversed a policy that led to the closure of one of the city’s two fire stations during staffing shortages.

This policy had previously endangered emergency response times and public safety.

The reversal followed a potent political action campaign, including social media efforts, door-to-door canvassing, and a city hall rally, led by IAFF 13th District Vice President Fred LeBlanc and IAFF staff.

FSJA Comment

The preservation of dispatcher jobs in Orillia underscores the crucial role of unions in protecting workers’ rights and ensuring public safety.

The decision not only secures jobs but also brings significant upgrades to the city’s emergency response capabilities with the NextGen 9-11 system.

This move is pivotal for Orillia, enhancing both employment security and public safety standards, illustrating a successful balance between technological advancement and job preservation in the public safety sector.

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