‘It obviously sends a horrible message’: Premier responds to alleged fire station retirement party under investigation

By | April 28, 2020

WINNIPEG — Premier Brian Pallister did not mince words when stressing the importance of physical distancing for all Manitobans on Tuesday.

During his news conference, the premier responded to allegations that firefighters in Winnipeg held a party for a retired firefighter at Station 1 last week. Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is now investigating whether public health orders were violated. None of the allegations have been proven.

“It obviously sends a horrible message,” the premier told reporters. “We have to follow the fundamentals. The fundamentals are to maintain social distancing practices. If we do that, then we can reopen our economy. If we don’t do that, then our economy is going to stay closed down, or partially closed down, for a longer period.”

The party is alleged to have had between 30 and 40 people in attendance, according to Ryan Woiden, president of the Paramedics of Winnipeg Local 911. Those in attendance allegedly included family members and off-duty firefighters.

If numbers in attendance are proven, it would be a violation of current public health orders, which limits gatherings to 10 or fewer people.

WFPS said Monday if violations are determined to have occurred, disciplinary actions will be taken.

On Monday, United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg president Alex Forrest said he couldn’t comment on the allegations until the union does its own investigation.

Pallister said there are families across the province who are postponing events such as weddings, christenings, and funerals in an effort to stop the spread, and he would ask all Manitobans to do the same thing.

“Retirement party or not, you can have that retirement party a little later, and maybe safely,” he said. “Right now is not the time to do that kind of thing.

“Let’s try and all be on the same song sheet here, and if we can do that effectively, then we’re going to move our province forward, not backward.”

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