Maximum fine for human-caused wildfires could jump to $1 million

Forest fire

People or companies responsible for wildfires could be slapped with much larger fines in the future.

The legislation changes are outlined in Bill 24, the proposed Forest and Prairie Protection Amendment Act. If passed, maximum fines for companies would jump from $5,000 to $1 million. Companies could also be fined up to $10,000 for not having a proper wildfire plan or having inadequate firefighting equipment on site.

Any person who’s ignored fire bans or improperly extinguished campfires, which is extremely common, could face a fine of up to $100,000.

According to Natural Resources Canada, “wildland fires” have consumed an average of 2.5 million hectares of the country per year since 1990, and a huge percentage of those fires are caused by humans.

“We know that far too many wildfires are triggered by human activity,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier told CBC News.

“In fact, about 70 percent of wildfires in the last five years have been linked to human causes. So we need to take proactive steps,” he says.

Included in that 70 percent is the historic forest fire that began in Fort McMurray in May, forcing more than 80,000 people to flee the city, which is still far from recovery.

Of course not all wildfires begin from carelessness, and the new legislation addresses that. The amendments would make it easier for the government to restrict the use of off-road vehicles like four-wheelers, which have been known to spark fires, and even drones, which can reportedly get in the way of water bombers.