The Search and Rescue Volunteers Tax Credit

  • Feb. 17, 2014 1:00 p.m.

submitted by Chris Ashurst–Last week’s federal budget included a small surprise that will help recognize the time and effort SAR volunteers put in helping our fellow islanders on the land and water with The Search and Rescue Volunteers Tax Credit. The Economic Action Plan 2014 states “Quiet heroes across Canada put themselves at risk in service of their communities by volunteering for ground, air and marine search and rescue groupsÂ… They are an integral part of the emergency response system, and provide a source of well-organized, well-trained and well-equipped volunteers”. This program is similar to the recognition that volunteer fire crews already have when filing their taxes, and can amount to about $450/year for those super-volunteers that put in 200 h/year.”We are delighted that the government has recognized the many hundreds of hours that our volunteer crew members devote each year to public safety on the water,” said Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue President Jim Lee. “Like volunteer firefighters, our marine rescuers spend time being on call, responding to emergencies, training, and promoting safety. It’s great that their contributions are being acknowledged at tax time.”On Haida Gwaii, there are two volunteer search and rescue (SAR) organizations. Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 45 is operated by Massett Marine Rescue. Approximately a dozen members take advantage of extensive training and boat time which prepares them for when a call comes in from the community, the Rescue Coordination Centre, or the Canadian Coast Guard. The Zodiac Hurricane rescue vessel “NorthWard” is a fast-response craft and all crew are trained in seamanship and first aid. A combination of bi-weekly training and incident response means that dedicated volunteers will be able to meet the 200-hour requirement of the new tax program.Archipelago SAR is the islands’ ground search and rescue team. An initial training course gives volunteers certification to conduct rescue operations under Emergency Management BC. This group does not have regular training, so it may be trickier to get sufficient hours for the tax break. But of course, volunteering for SAR isn’t about being reimbursed for your time.New volunteers are always welcome to become a part of Haida Gwaii’s SAR teams. Massett Marine Rescue takes in new members throughout the year, for those who live within 20 minutes of Masset Harbour. Archipelago SAR puts on an annual training course, and adults from all communities with local knowledge, wilderness skills, and the ability to respond are encouraged to take part. Both SAR groups support their volunteers with training, insurance, and covering any expenses that may arise during a response.For more information on the opportunities to join either Massett Marine Rescue or Archipelago SAR, please contact Chris Ashurst – chris@sparkenergy.ca

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