Office of the Official Opposition 

Are our water bombers fully staffed? - Forsey



For Immediate Release

(June 21, 2024 St. John’s, N.L.) — PC Shadow Minister for Forestry and Agriculture, Pleaman Forsey (MHA, Exploits), is calling on the Furey Liberals to provide a public update on the province’s water bomber staffing levels.

Forsey highlighted that previously, the government maintained 6 water bombers and 18 pilots. However, according to information released last July, the government reported having only 7 pilots available to staff 3 planes. The Furey Liberals have not issued a comprehensive update since then.


“While we appreciate Quebec and Ontario's assistance in Churchill Falls, concerns have arisen regarding our own preparedness,” said Forsey. “How many new staff members have been hired in the past year? Do we currently have a full complement? Do we possess the pilot and crew capacity to deploy all four planes simultaneously?”


“We vividly recall the devastating forest fires in Central NL in 2022, and now face a major evacuation in Labrador. Presently, there are 11 fires burning in the province, with 7 categorized as out of control. During yesterday's briefing, the Premier and Minister failed to provide clarity regarding our staffing levels and the availability of equipment in use. Do we have an adequate number of pilots and technicians, or are aircraft still grounded due to staff shortages?”


Forsey pointed out that the 5th water bomber has been out of service since 2018, while the Liberal Government have yet to take action.


“It is completely unacceptable that we lack the necessary aircraft and personnel to combat fires, especially as the severity of wildfire seasons increases. When will the Furey Liberals begin to take this matter seriously, starting with the repair or replacement of the 5th water bomber?”