Suburban B.C. Firefighters Get OK To Favour Women And Minorities While Hiring

Canadian Press, March 16, 2007

A beleaguered B.C. fire department has been given the thumbs up by politicians to favour women and visible minorities when hiring.

Richmond, B.C., city council has approved a proposal for Fire and Rescue to adopt an assisted hiring practice for their next recruitment campaign.

City spokesman Ted Townsend says that means paying for women and minorities to go to firefighting school, rather than trying to recruit grads direct from training.

He says the schools themselves don’t produce the diverse graduates the city wants to see on the force.

But Townsend says the city is still accepting applications from all sectors of society and knows it can’t fill all the vacancies with women or minorities.

There are only two women and fewer than 10 visible minorities among the 206 firefighters in the Vancouver suburban community.

The department underwent a massive review of internal policies and procedures after allegations of sexual harassment from four female firefighters.

Townsend says the new hiring practice is only a first step in changing the face of the force to reflect Richmond’s ethnicly diverse population.

The department now must gain the approval of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to move forward with the plan.

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