News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

November 29, 2018


The government of Manitoba has entered into an agreement with Babcock Canada Inc. to provide services for the suppression of wildfires, including the use of water bombers, Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler announced today.  The transaction is the result of a competitive request for proposal (RFP) process initiated earlier this year.

“Our government is committed to protecting Manitobans from wildfires and that’s what this agreement delivers,” said Schuler.  “It will ensure faster response times, enhanced safety and a superior aircraft maintenance program.  It will make Manitoba’s wildfire suppression system even better.”

Babcock has over 30 years of fixed and rotary wing aerial firefighting experience throughout Europe.  For Manitoba, it will work in partnership with Air Spray, an experienced, safe and effective provider of fire-suppression services with long-term contracts in a number of Canadian provinces and the United States, the minister said.

In accordance with the terms of the RFP, the Manitoba government will retain ownership of its seven active water bombers.  The deployment of those key pieces of the wildfire suppression system will remain under the direction of Manitoba Wildfire Program staff.

“The aircraft will always serve Manitoba’s needs first, and may only be deployed outside the province with the government’s consent and direction,” said Schuler.

Through long-term and existing mutual assistance agreements, neighbouring jurisdictions have access to Manitoba’s water bombers, pending availability and approval from the Manitoba Wildfire Program.  In turn, Manitoba has access to other aircraft for fire-suppression emergencies.  The minister noted the majority of Canadian provinces use private carriers for all wildfire suppression services.  Manitoba’s Wildfire Program currently uses private carriers for some bird-dog services, helicopters and crew transportation services.

Representatives of Babcock will be meeting with affected government employees in the very near future to discuss employment opportunities under the new operating structure, Schuler said.

An RFP process remains underway for both general transportation air services and for air ambulance services, the minister noted, adding that once those RFP processes are completed, all air services agreements will be publicly disclosed.

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