Currently in Toronto — May 13th, 2022

The fun in the sun continues!

The weather, currently.

The fun in the sun continues. Friday will mark the 4th day in a row that we are above seasonal. Your wake-up temperature for tomorrow will likely be in the low teens. The kids can wear shorts as they head to school, with a high of 25°C under mainly sunny skies. The wind will be light from the SE and the UV index will be 9 or very high.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy skies, as the leading edge of cloud spills into the lower lakes from a system sitting off the coast of the Carolinas. Eventually, it will bring in some showers for a part of the weekend. The low 12°C.

Anwar Knight

What you need to know, currently.

The New York Times published a piece last week on the challenges of conducting prescribed burns as climate change exacerbates wildfire season. Indigenous people have been practicing controlled burns for thousands of years as a way to care for the land—a controlled burn regenerates the forest and clears underbrush, which acts as kindling for the most destructive wildfires. The Forest Service has struggled to hire enough wildland firefighters in recent years, however, which means they have fewer trained staff to implement prescribed burns.

Part of the labor shortage likely has to do with the terms of the job. Wildland firefighters are generally classified as seasonal employees, let go in the off season, and lose their health insurance; while the pay may be decent, it’s not enough to make up for the loss of benefits. California tries to manage this shortage by bringing in prisoners to fight wildfires, paying them what effectively amounts to slave wages.

One wildland firefighter, Soledad Espinoza, told The Marshall Project that she was paid $1 an hour, but because she was paying restitution her wages ultimately amounted to about 45 cents an hour. Until last year, anyone with a felony record could not become a firefighter in the state of California — even if they had spent years on the job while incarcerated. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that allows workers to petition to have their felony records expunged, but it’s still slow, time-consuming, and unnecessarily punitive.