The CFL Players’ Association issued an ultimatum to the league Monday night: follow your protocol related to poor air quality or the athletes won’t show up.
Internal protocols agreed upon by the league and CFLPA in 2018 and 2019 during wildfires in B.C. states that players should not practice or play outdoors if the air quality is plus-seven or higher. British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba have all experienced high-risk air quality over the past few days. In Winnipeg, on Tuesday morning, the air quality was plus-10, which is dangerous and should have made for an easy decision by the league office to cancel the session.
However, since the CFL let Kevin McDonald go — he was the league’s vice president of football operations and player safety — there has been no individual replacement tasked solely with the players’ health and safety. That’s made it difficult for the union to trust that the CFL always has the players’ health in mind. Especially after the recent Achilles injuries suffered in July, the four in one drill in Saskatchewan being most noteworthy.
Environment Canada has issued an air quality warning in Manitoba due to numerous forest fires in the southeastern part of the province and in nearby northwestern Ontario. Smoky conditions have caused air pollution and poor visibility across Manitoba. The national weather agency has advised Manitobans to stay indoors.
The union has constantly been monitoring the air quality situations across Canada. The Blue Bombers, to their credit, made the prudent move to cancel practice which seems to align with their clubs’ dedication to the health and safety of their players.